Game log of a ToEE adventure that somehow turned into an Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. You can find the original google doc here. Silver Mount didn’t really work for a space station, so the PCs started calling it The Sky Fortress.
Rogues Gallery – “General Puggin’s Moribund of Mercenaries”*
- The Rogue – Giselle der Gauner the Soulknife due to a mutation granting her telekinetic powers (character #2, previous character was Mirka the Rogue – Deceased)
- 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 the Android (brain tape swap) (Character #2, previous character was a cleric – Deceased) and his (henchmen Zof the Jarhead Wizard – Deceased).
- The Ranger – Bustov Daman and his animal companion, The Mou-Mou Bird (bloodthirsty sparrow).
- The Cleric – Lorenz Brandt (character #2), the scribe.
The Wizard – Boris the Jaws-Dodger (Deceased Session 25, retired from the game).
*Due to a transcription error by the Verbobonc mercenary company registrar, “Merry” become “Moribund.”
Session 32 & 33 Recap
Safe within their tank, Lintelfaden didn’t even turn around despite the earth cultists chasing them down on their bulettes. All six of them attacked the Apparatus hopelessly, not even leaving a scratch on the armour, but the clanging of their hammers against the hull annoyed the party to no end.
“Why are they even trying?” Lintelfaden sighed. “They can’t damage KIT.”
“What can I do for you?” KIT replied. The tank had an automated voice of its own and mentioning its name at any time would pull its attention.
“We weren’t talking to you,” Lorenz replied.
“Did you mean ‘Turbo Boost’?” it corrected.
“What? No, I didn’t say anything like-”
“Activating Turbo Boost.”
Without warning, it doubled its speed and began to break away from the bulettes at the cost of throwing the party around inside. By the time they could get back on their feet, a sudden turn knocked them back down.
“Stop turbo boosting!” Lintelfaden commanded but KIT didn’t reply.
Augusta rubbed the back of her head, steadying herself against the walls. “We have a tank with selective hearing…”
Gisella telekinetically lifted one of the cultists off of the bullette and pulled him towards the tank. “Let’s take one with us for questioning. Probably some information we can ask about the cults.”
Bustov opened the hatch to KIT, letting her bring the hostage in. “Good thinking, might as well make the most of this situation.”
Though the enemy tried to fight back, he was easily disarmed and tied up, put under a Zone of Truth and searched. Other than a symbol to the Temple of Black Earth and his war pick, the cultist was completely devoid of other equipment, not even rations or supplies for journeys. It seemed like most of his equipment was strapped to the bulette but there was no way Gisella was pulling that out of the earth.
“Alright, what now?” Augusta wondered, scratching her head. “What questions did we want to ask?”
Gisella shrugged and flipped open her notebook. “Admittedly I didn’t think that far ahead. But surely there’s something, right?”
“As if I would tell you,” the cultist spat.
“What’s your name then? We can’t keep calling you ‘cultist’.”
Bustov pushed forward Aki who shyly covered her face. He kept saying ‘charm him’ but she continued to deny and pull away. “It’s not going to work!” she protested.
“It’ll be fine, you look great! Do the mist thing and you’ll easily charm him.”
Lorenz cocked his head to one side. “You can cast spells?”
“It’s a special thing,” she explained. “Since the seasons are changing.” Only after she mentioned it did they realise that her once golden-red hair had turned a paler shade, almost whiter as the cold settled in.
Mist concealed her for a moment and quickly dispersed and she was now doing a cute pose, little sparkles like snow flakes fluttered around her. In the same second, her face went red and she hid it in her hands, hiding behind the party. Despite running away, the spell worked its magic and Diderich was completely charmed and answered all of her questions willingly.
Bustov slapped Lorenz out of the charm. “It wasn’t directed at you!”
“Yeah, but it’s not my fault!” Lorenz explained, though his lies weren’t the hardest to see through.
Lintelfaden climbed out of his suit and fixed his tie. “Question time then; what’s the name of the earth cult prophet?”
“Why would I ever answer you, demi-human midget?” Dereck spat.
“Could you answer them? They’re my friends,’ Aki asked.
“Whatever you want!”
Marlos Urnrayle was the leader of the cult and, thanks to the perfect charm, more information was disclosed without asking. Convening with the other prophets, they had retreated to the Greater Elemental Temple. The single temple was hidden below the temples and was accessible from either of the four cults. After the death of Aerisi, the news spread rapidly and soon reached the ears of the prophets, putting them on high alert. Whether they had begun the ritual to summon the elemental princes or not was privy to the cultists.
“Well that’s not good,” Gisella admitted. “Though we have been getting rather distracted with the space station.”
“Honestly it looks like the better option now,” Bustov laughed. “It’s nearly impossible to attack the water cult, the earth cult is extremely dangerous in every way, and we don’t even know where the fire guys are hidden. I guess we could go straight to the Greater Temple through the wind place but we can’t even handle the regular temples.”
Augusta knocked the sides of KIT. “We have a tank now so we can use it to check out the water temple safely.” She turned to Diderich, smitten by Aki who had changed her attitude from shy to disgusted. “So, uh, what do we do with this guy now?”
Gisella flicked his forehead. “Send him to the sheriff of Hommlet and lock him up.”
“Why?!” Diderich cried, indignant despite being completely helpless. “I have done nothing to harm you guys!”
“You attacked our tank.”
“A simple misunderstanding. I am a merchant, you see, I thought you were stealing my wares.”
“In a tank?”
She waved her hand dismissively. “It doesn’t matter, it counts as vandalism no matter what he says.”
“I am completely unharmed,” KIT added unhelpfully. “They’re weapons did not even put a scratch on my armour.”
Diderich looked proud of himself. “See? Even the… tank… thingy… agrees with me! I am completely innocent, you are the ones attacking me while I humbly defend my wares-”
As soon as they arrived in Hommlet, Gisella opened the hatch and threw Diderich out of the tank.
Other than a quick restock of supplies and potions, they headed straight for Riverguard Keep, traveling swiftly in KIT. In answer to Lorenz’s prayers, the ride was rather smooth despite the terrain they were on. It didn’t feel different even as they neared the marshy ground surrounding Riverguard Keep, though the rain banging against the Apparatus was deafening and unbearable. It hadn’t changed a bit, still pouring without any sign of letting up.
“I am sick and tired of water,” Lintelfaden sighed. “Third time’s the charm, right? Let’s give it another shot.”
“We’re just scouting,” Lorenz reminded. “KIT doesn’t have weapons so we’ll have to come back without him. But if we don’t have a clear layout of the place we aren’t going to make it far.”
“Accounting for the amount of people, I will be able to store about one hour worth of air for everyone,” KIT explained. “While underwater, I will be sealed and airtight.”
Back into the depths, not one of them felt afraid, tense, or excited going back into the temple. Without saying anything they all collectively agreed that this was by far the worst temple out of the four. Taking out the other three and letting this place summon Olhydra was more plausible than taking out Gar Shatterkeel.
As soon as they came into view, a tide knight charged them and his trident bounced off KIT’s hull, hardly leaving a scratch. Confused, he tried again with a longer charge and promptly bounced off again. This was exactly what the party wanted, now they could safely explore the temple. Unfortunately, the tank could only fit in specific places and checking the side rooms was beyond them but a quick scan was all they needed to know it was completely flooded.
A giant octopus punched the tank constantly with its tentacles but its onslaught soon came to a complete halt when it hurt itself more than it damaged KIT. Under orders but with no way to complete them, it attached itself to the Apparatus and tagged along.
“That’s a big octopus,” Bustov muttered. “I wonder how it would taste if we cooked it.”
“Maybe if there is somewhere to land,” Augusta sighed. “But it looks like the whole thing is underwater. This goes deeper? I can hardly imagine what it would be like.”
Everything was flooded from top to bottom. Even if they tried to swim up to the cave roof, the surface level was even above that. Unable to leave KIT, they could check any of the rooms or side passages for stairs leading above but they got a glimpse of a few paths heading even deeper within the temple. No other temple, no matter how strong the enemy was, could have been worse than this; they were confident they could beat every cultist they came across easily but the water made every fight extremely difficult.
Swimming out into a big cave, the walls glittered with smaller crystals like stars in the night sky. Even below them, it seemed to shine like thousands of gold pieces, diamonds shining in the rough, illuminated by an ethereal light like a lamp. The dull glow seemed to move towards them, held by a mermaid investigating KIT. She seemed to scream in terror and fled for her life, throwing away the lamp towards the ocean floor but it didn’t shine on gold. Its glow revealed the scales of a draconic being, awoken by a cry for help.
“Hahaha, I didn’t see that, right?” Lorenz joked. “I didn’t just see a dragon down there, did I? Guys?”
“That is… uh… Yep, that’s a dragon,” Lilie shivered. She grabbed Lintelfaden and shook him violently. “Turn this thing around! Turn around, turn around!”
Roaring, its mouth shined with a golden light and water was sucked into its jaws, creating a miniature whirlpool around it. Closing its mouth, its neck seemed to glow hot as it heated the water and its breath emitted burning steam, consuming KIT and creating a burning vortex underwater. Furious that its lair was invaded, it rammed into the Apparatus and slammed it against the side of the wall, unbothered by its thick plating.
“We don’t have any way to fight this thing!” Bustov shouted. “Head back the way we came from, it can’t fit there!”
Lorenz siphoned his magic into KIT, repairing the damage from the dragon turtle’s attacks. “KIT is tough. He’s taking the hits with ease despite being thrown around!” His magic sparked and vanished, insufficient to heal the hit to the engine. “The heat on the other hand hit hard, there’s more damage to the engine from the steam.”
The octopus panicked and immediately sprayed ink everywhere, swimming away before the dragon turtle ate it. The screen lasted long enough for KIT to escape down the smaller channels that the enemy could fit in, escaping from its snapping jaws. It couldn’t reach but it definitely tried, shaking the sunken temple walls in a frenzy, trying to breath one last steam breath before they fled, but their fear was enough to satisfy it for now and it swam back to its lair. The last thing the party heard was the mermaids cheering as they swam back to the entrance tunnel.
“The entire place is flooded!” Lintelfaden complained. “Augusta, Lilie, and I are the only ones that can fight properly under there!”
“This is starting to get repetitive,” Bustov sighed. “And these guys are supposed to be the third strongest!”
Gisella twirled her pencil between her fingers. “Any ideas then? Where to go or what to do?”
Augusta scratched the back of her head. “If Kwalish didn’t charge an absurd amount for what he calls ‘Atlantean Armour’ then things could go our way. What does he even use the money for?”
“He’s got Robbie who is covered in gold,” Lorenz reminded. “Spent it all there.”
“Let’s visit him, maybe we can use something,” Lintelfaded suggested. “And I’ve put in an order for a robot unicorn that should be ready by now.”
Hearing their plan, a platform at the back of KIT began to glow blue as it powered on. “I can provide you direct access to Master Kwalish’s Lab as soon as you want.”
A blink was all it took and they were transported to a side room within the lab on a teleporter pad with the same Atlantean design. Already they could hear Kwalish laughing, machines humming, and tools banging as the gnome worked his magic. Pushing open the door, multiple robot pieces, tubes of all sizes, and wrenches floated in midair, held aloft by ethereal hands as the scientist spun on his chair, sliding from one side of the room to the other.
“These elemental guys are doing you in,” he laughed, dangerously spinning a hammer on his finger. “Come back to ask for more of my ingenious inventions?”
“Actually, yes I did.” Lintelfaden hopped out of the suit, ecstatic as he slid his hand across the robot unicorn, majestic and shining. “Now this is what I’m talking about-”
Kwalish hit his hand with the hammer. “No touching!”
“Ouch, what?! It’s done, right?!”
“Not nearly! I’m missing a key component!”
“Huh? I gave you everything already!”
“Everything? Hah! I don’t have the hologram yet, do I?”
Lintelfaden stared at him in disbelief. “The hologram? The special effects to make the mane and tail?! It’s still a unicorn without that!”
“This is the intellecetual difference between a genius gnome and a stupid halfling…” He hit Lintelfaden’s head again with the hammer. “Without it, the product is not finished! I will not let you use an unfinished product!”
“Fine! I’ll get you your hologram for the special effects!”
“As you should.” He climbed onto the unicorn, clicked a few buttons, and rode it around the room, blasting music from the built-in speakers. “She is not to be ruined before perfection by using her early.”
“Huh? But-! You are-!”
He had to be dragged out of the room, suit and all, by Robbie to avoid further conflict.
Back into the space station, the goal was level 10: the Gene-splicer. They had heard and read about what it could do, breaking the boundaries between creatures and opening up limitless possibilities to those daring to make the journey. They were extremely cautious about anything past level 6, their foes only got stronger the deeper they went, but the reward would outweigh the risk tenfold. If they could get in and out alive.
“The Alpha Enginseer is a hologram,” Lorenz remembered. “Level six I think, past a dusty hallway from the first Knowledge Altar.”
“Let’s head for level 10 first,” Lintelfaden suggested. “Then we’ll head back up and grab the hologram along the way.”
“I hope I don’t get eaten by another floor,” Lilie sighed. “This place is super dangerous and we’re going deeper than before…”
A few worker robots stared at them as they passed by, eyeing the elf and scanning her body. They left their jobs to grab her pointy ears, checking her vital signs for any signs of mutation.
“No mutations,” one reported.
“Something is wrong, human?” the other asked. “Your ears are damaged and stretched; we will direct you to the Hospitaller Genectica immediately.”
Lilie panicked and signaled to the others to help her. “I’m fine, totally fine, this is how I look normally!”
“Normal? This isn’t normal.”
“Her head must be hurt,” the other added. “Contacting Adeptus Arbites units to guide you safely.”
“Don’t call them!” she interrupted. Pulling away from the workers, she shoved Bustov in front of her as bait and ran behind everyone else, ready to summon more animals and run again.
Bustov showed the worker robots his platinum palm-disc. “Uh, cancel that order for I am Temegen Fenanz!”
They scanned the disc, turned to the ranger, then back to their work, leaving the party to continue on. Whether they acknowledged or ignored him they couldn’t tell, but they weren’t trying to ‘fix’ the demi-humans in the party, which was all that was wanted. Uneventfully, they passed through level one and two, chatting or laughing along the way; it was strange coming back this way without any trouble when they had struggled to go from one floor to the next before. The time of reprieve was greatly appreciated, even as they passed by a squadron of MK I Gearsmen they didn’t bat an eye.
“Step aside,” the robots ordered.
Augusta was more than happy to comply. “I wonder where they’re heading. Higher up, I guess.”
“Higher up…?” Lorenz echoed. “Wait, are those the guys the worker robots called?”
The Gearsmen froze and turned to face them, marching up to Bustov. Scanning the palm-disc, they saluted him. “Temegen Fenanz, you have requested our assistance. We will now guide you to the gene therapy machine.”
“Who?” Bustov asked but a hit to the back of his head jogged his memory. “Oh, right! Temegen is I!”
“Level 10…” A soft beeping echoed within one of the Gearsmen and he planned the safest route for the party. “Follow me.”
Nothing was better than safe passage through the space station that wanted them dead. The other machines they passed ignored them and the wildlife didn’t dare attack while the MK Is remained vigilant. They walked straight through trees or bushes without flinching, breaking down a path for the party to easily traverse; the gardens on level 4 were crossed with ease.
“Stand back,” the guard warned, loading their shotguns as their eyes turned red.
Out of the brush dozens of small brains leapt out towards the party, crawling and bouncing around on tiny robotic legs. Their ravenous screeches were cut short as the MK I shot them down, crushing anything that could harm the party, immune to their claws and mind blasts. The path was paved with thick, purple blood clinging to the walls and floors; nothing remained of the aliens that were killed, corpses disintegrated by the lasers.
One of the robots flung aside a xeno and loaded its gun. “Alpha incoming.”
The steel reverberated with every step as a massive beast charged towards them. The skymetal doors did not hold and were blown off its hinges as a white dragon clawed the walls and roared in fury. Its eyes rolled back into its head and its scales were blackened but it continued to charge, struggling to fit through the hallway.
Before anyone reacted Lilie had bolted for the elevator and ran around the corner, summoning Jeffery and Co. to deal with the dragon in her stead.
Ignoring the warning, August and Elmo were quick to take the front lines followed close behind by Lintelfaden. Their magical blades cut through the scales but they felt brittle and weak, lacking any defensive structure, crumbling under their powerful blows. Something was wrong with the dragon but it was not to be taken lightly.
It took a deep breath and the temperature on the level dropped, a layer of frost spreading across the walls and floors of the garden. A wave of cold air pulsed out from its chest as it exhaled, releasing a destructive blizzard that consumed everything before it. So cold it burned, it froze the brain xeno’s and shattered them into hundreds of pieces, killing them all instantly. The rest unlucky enough to get caught were restrained by the ice climbing around their legs and armour, severely restricting their movement.
Except Bustov who flicked the snow off his shoulder and charged the Lenz. “Light it up, amirite?”
Do you even have to ask?
Glowing brighter than ever, the arrow was like a shining light, a lance of ice crackling with energy. The rime along his arm swiftly crawled up to his shoulder, spiking out in a glacial formation, refracting the light from the arrow. In a blink it struck the dragon’s temple, shattering the scales through sheer force alone, leaving a trail of light in its wake. With a click of his fingers the energy collapsed and the arrow imploded, knocking the dragon off its feet and freezing its body and slowing its movements.
“Fear not, Temegen Fenanz is here to save you once again,” he laughed. “I am, after all, captain of this team!”
A golden gear appeared around the dragon’s neck at Lorenz’s command. “I don’t know how but you managed to freeze a white dragon. And now it can’t escape!”
Tiny droids were transmatted in and took on the shape of drills, collapsing around the dragon and encasing it in an entire ball with one purpose; to grind it into dust. They glowed red as they superheated and fused themselves with each other, crushing its victim, drilling further and further through the scales. Encasing the dragon, the golden gear dissipated and the skymetal ball lay dormant.
Lilie clapped her hands and cheered, rejoining the party and letting the elevator door close. Another second and she would have ran back to level 1. “Nice! You got the dragon! Hahaha, you guys are great!”
The skymetal ball was blown apart and a black dragon emerged, roaring and thrashing furiously. An accidental blow knocked Elmo off his feet, its razor tail piercing the space marine suit, while its snapping jaws nearly crushed Augusta. The cover fire from the MK Is only enraged it and energy began to condense in its mouth again, dripping with acid.
“Why isn’t it dead?!” Lilie complained, shooting a lightning bolt at it. “Why does everything here want to eat us?!”
Gisella’s daggers flew in and pierced the dragon, sending a shock to its mind with each blow. Enhanced and modified, they fully utilised her telekinesis to deliver blows to the brain, bypassing any defenses that stood in the way. Her simple daggers were stopped by the scales but the dragon recoiled from the attack. Strangely enough, the monstrosity seemed more vulnerable to the daggers then it was any other weapon.
It batted away the attackers and its body phased in and out of reality, breaking apart like a hologram. All save for its brain, the one part of it that seemed real. Its jet black scales took on a royal blue hue and the acid in its jaws changed to electricity. Knocking the party down with its wings, it exhaled a destructive storm, lightning sparking in every direction, coursing through the skymetal walls. It chained around corners, short circuited the elevator used to escape, and shut down the guards that protected the party.
“This can’t be a good thing,” Lintelfaden murmured, trying to get his suit to move again. It wasn’t responding to his commands and, though it protected him from the shock, it wouldn’t let him leave either.
Augusta and Elmo quickly received healing from Lorenz, albeit weak, split between the two, but it was enough to get them back on their feet to counter while the dragon still recovered from the attack.
“I’ve got it,” she declared. “It’s teamwork time!”
“Now of all times is not teamwork time,” Elmo sighed, but he had learned to endure his mistress’ sudden urges to do crazy stunts.
Flipping off his shield, she gracefully landed on the enemy’s back and tore open a deep wound as Bustov supported with cover fire. Its scales were still brittle from his destructive shot and she cut through like a knife through butter, leaping off and to safety with ease. As she disengaged, Lintelfaden was right there to follow-up, piloting the suit as best he could, delivering a decisive blow to the neck.
“Cut through!” Elmo ordered and struck the outstretched neck with his comrade.
Their combined might ripped straight through and beheaded the dragon before it could morph again. But there wasn’t any blood from the wound, only black, decrepit flesh as if the beast was already rotting. Suddenly, the scales began to peel off the monstrosity and it collapsed, breaking apart and rotting as soon as it ‘died’. From what they could tell, this dragon had died a very long time ago…
Its skull burst open and the brain crawled out, smaller than the others that had attacked, but had twice the amount of needle-like tendrils. It quickly balanced itself on its limbs and raised them towards the sky, mumbling something incoherent before releasing an ear-piercing screech. A blast of telekinetic energy pulsed from it and struck the entire area, maybe the whole level, ignoring all armour and attacking the mind directly.
The entire party felt their minds being pierced by a lance and their vision blacked out. A sudden jarring to the head woke them up but nothing was the same as before.
Lorenz looked at his body, back at Lilie, then back again. “Huh?! This isn’t-?!”
Likewise, Lilie stopped running and turned back to the party, unsure why she was running in the first place. “What’s going on…? This isn’t my body…?”
Cackling, the Intellect Devourer jumped over the dragon’s corpse and away from the MK I, knowing full well the mind lance didn’t work on them. Leaving the party in shambles, it made its escape despite the hot pursuit.
“Hey, Elmo, wake up!” Augusta cried, shaking her unconscious knight. “Lorenz, come here and heal him!”
Despite what she said, Lilie was the one to run over while Lorenz bolted in the opposite direction.
“I’m Elmo,” Lintelfaden said and the space marine suit fell over, struggling to pilot it without training. “I think… that thing swapped our minds with that last attack.”
Luckily, Gisella still seemed to be in her right mind, dragging Lorenz back to the party. “Alright… Lilie? Yeah, no one else runs like that; work with… Lilie… to heal everyone. I’ll give Bustov first aid for the time being.”
Not only did that last attack take out almost half the party, it swapped the consciousness between those who were hit and survived. Casting healing spells was a totally different matter, struggling to explain to each other exactly how to use it.
“That doesn’t make sense!” Lorenz snapped. “I can’t hold this gear thingy and pray and then cast a spell!”
“Listen to me!’ Lilie retorted. “People are going to die if you can’t cast it!”
Lintelfaden (Elmo) started to get the hang of the suit, understanding the functions and what controlled what. “Have you seen this, Augusta?” he said. “There is a closet in here full of suits! There are ten suits just sitting in here in perfect condition! And this is a leather seat? And another compartment filled with supplies? He’s got it made in here!”
‘Elmo’ was stabilised in time and Gisella had helped the others who had been downed. When the urgency of the situation finally calmed down and no one was at risk of death, their heads suddenly shook again and their bodies swapped back. Lorenz gave thanks to UNITY that it wasn’t a permanent thing, he would have gone insane teaching Lilie how to cast all of his spells.
“I’ve never been more stressed in my life,” he sighed, falling down onto the grass.
“Hahaha, don’t be like that!” Lilie encouraged. “I got it done in the end!”
The Gearsmen returned with one less than they had left, damaged and battered but they seemed to be self repairing overtime. As if nothing ever happened, they returned to the route they had plotted and continued to lead the party to level 10.
After being questioned, they revealed that that intellect devourer was known as Makau, an extreme threat that UNITY herself wanted exterminated from her space station. Weak and timid, many devourers die once their body is destroyed, never living long enough to grow in strength but Makau was an exception. Smaller than the rest, he easily was able to take over massive beasts or even a dragon with ease; the others of his kind find corpses to dominate, he kills for his puppets.
A much larger silver MK II joined them as they arrived at level 6, transmitting information to them. Dual-wielding plasma shotguns, the party felt a lot safer with it on their side, while Lorenz marveled at the craftsmanship. He inspected every inch of the Destroyer while they made their way, taking notes on how it was built, its power source, and what kind of weapons it used.
Level 7 was not really a level but a massive wheel that endlessly turned. Platforms rotated as it spun and the Gearsmen got on one, beckoning the others to follow them. The entire room was pitch black save the few glittering lights along the wheel itself, mimicking stars in what seemed like a bottomless pit. The wheel sluggishly turned, taking them further and further into the abyss, but the platform finally reached the bottom and let them down on level 8.
Without any time to sight see, the Gearsmen ordered the party to follow, no detours would be taken whatsoever. From what they could gather, it seemed like a gymnasium? They spotted a few robots but couldn’t make out what kind of machine they were or if they had ever seen them before. Hurrying along and straight to level 9, the restricting hallways and tunnels opened up to a massive forest.
They couldn’t see the roof, too far up and shrouded by darkness, the boughs of titanic trees blocking their sight even more. The wildlife they saw along the way was nothing like the gardens on level 4, all mutated or discolored, the animals even moreso. They were warned not to eat anything here but they didn’t need to be told that. It wasn’t just like a forest, it was a real forest in a space station, not a bit of skymetal anywhere they looked. Clearings, ponds, hills, tunnels; the feeling of being in space was lost when surrounded by nature.
Then they were snapped back to reality when the trees cleared to a wasteland, a tank destroyed and smoking in a radioactive pool. Its design was identical to KIT but it had weapons and claws, yet it was still in such a miserable condition.
“Kit could take a hit from a dragon,” Lintelfaden muttered. “This one has weapons and is trashed…”
“Let’s not mess with anything that broke it!” Lilie suggested.
It was only going to get worse from here on and they had skipped the dangers of four levels. No one was looking forward to heading back up.
The Gearsmen took them on what would be known as a train, opening the doors and allowing the party to take a seat. The sudden change in speed was shocking to them, nothing but lights in the dark rushing past the windows, giving them all a sick feeling as they went deeper and deeper. Suddenly, it came to a jarring halt, knocking them to their feet, playing a little jingle, and opening the doors.
“As you have asked, this is level 10,” the MK I explained. “We cannot take you any further, we must now go to confront Makau who has been spotted on level 13.”
And without further ado, their guards left, leaving them alone to find the gene-splicer.
The ‘level’ was more like a stop at the station. The platform led them to a single room reminiscent of a waiting area of a doctor’s office, fit with couches, chairs, tables, newspaper, and the like. The receptionist desk was unmanned and a red light flashed rhythmically, leading them to a small control panel and a phone. Desolate yet immaculate, it was as if someone was cleaning this area that no one ever visited, preparing for the rare moment a patient should arrive.
“Is there anything of interest?” Gisella asked, searching through old files at the desk.
“Not really…” Fensal muttered. “There’s nothing here that stands out at all-”
A soft ring echoed in the room and an announcer interrupted their search. “The Hospitallia Genectica is currently out of service due to an emergency on level 13. Please take your leave and return tomorrow when we are in service. For urgent and immediate attention, please head to medbay two. Thank you.”
Lintelfaden hopped out of the suit and gave Gisella a medkit. “Before we encounter anything, you should take this. We managed to find a stronger medkit so I’ll take one and you can use the other.” He explained the ins and outs of the medkit, not a confusing technological item in the least but still must be handled with care.
“I’ve seen you use it before,” Gisella acknowledged. “I’ll get the hang of it.”
“Don’t break it. That’s really useful.”
“Sure, I’ll be fine.”
Augusta interrupted the conversation, signaling towards the medbays. “So which one are we going through first?”
“Number one of course!” Bustov replied without anyone’s consent and opened the door.
Turning to greet him, a large robot scanned Bustov as he entered. His body was like a large tube, armless and without any weapons, moving around on multiple spider-like legs. Calling his two assistants, they hovered towards him, a big smile on their faces, and waved at the ranger.
“What is the emergency?” the robot inquired.
“Emergency?” Lorenz repeated. “Why did we come here…? Racking his brain, he clicked his fingers and pointed at Lilie. “Oh, that’s right! She has a terrible problem with her ears! They’re all pointy!”
“Huh?” she stuttered. “My ears?”
Without further ado, the robot’s side opened and six arms stretched out, shoving aside Bustov with ease. Lifting Lilie off her feet, he slammed her onto the operating table and scanned her thoroughly, his eyes beeping as they reached her ears.
“Ah, yes, there is a problem right here,” he explained. His arms retracted themselves and new ones were revealed, each fit with a different, unorthodox medical tool. “You have done well to seek out me, The Doctor, for such a dangerous mutation! The only course of action here is surgery!”
“What?!” Lilie screamed as a buzzsaw started whirring and the scalpel started spinning like a drill. “I hate you guys!”
“She doesn’t need surgery!” Lorenz panicked, desperate to mend the situation he got his friend into. “It’s normal for her, totally normal!”
“You must excuse me but family members cannot be in the room during the operation.” He started shoving them towards the door, calling over his assistant. “Nurse Joy! Nurse Kindness! Please assist these patients in the waiting room, they must be worried about the surgery!” He turned back to Lilie, trapping her under his iron grip and pulling out a ridiculously sized syringe. “Now, for the anesthetic!”
Gisella quickly held the Doctor with her telekinesis and Lintelfaden crushed the assistant nurse bots, pushing forward to save Lilie who was screaming and cursing her team. The Katana of the Lich Shogun’s Eternal Shogunate could easily cut through the steel plating of the machines but a forcefield stopped the blade, protecting the Doctor who remained unfazed by the attacks.
Elmo tried to put on the pressure but his own blade bounced off the shield, but he did pull the Doctor’s attention just in time for Gisella to lift Lilie out of harm’s way.
“Oh no, not another one!” the Doctor cried and lifted Elmo off his feet, throwing him onto the table. “There must be something wrong with his brain, lashing out violently like this! It seems surgery is required; prepare for anesthetic!”
The needle was more like a dagger, piercing through armour and injecting the medicine into Elmo’s system. Overdose was an understatement; the Doctor non-stopped stabbed him with multiple different substances while fending off the party with a scalpel, buzzsaw, and a drill.
Dizzy and numb, Elmo’s sense of feeling began to seep away as the powerful medicine kicked in, taking away his ability to resist the enemy’s immense strength. As soon as the anesthetics kicked in, the Doctor used the syringes like a fencing weapon and started the operation.
“Not another one!” he swore, his voice breaking as if he was holding back tears. “I will not lose another patient!”
Augusta weaved in-between her team and wrapped around the robot, channeling her ki into her fists. “Let Elmo go!”
What looked like a single punch was really half a dozen strikes, cracking the barrier with each hit. Elemental forces were flowing between her palms and waves of wind whipped around her body, enhancing her blows. Bustov was sure to keep up the attack and released a bolt of pure frost, shattering the barrier as both energy sources canceled each other out.
“Oh dear, you broke my barrier.” With a wave of his claw, another one was projected around him. Humming, he turned his focus back to Elmo and continued his work, preparing the drill. “Now then, close your eyes and think happy thoughts.”
Lorenz channeled his magic into his holy symbol and a small spark was released, floating towards the Doctor. As it touched the barrier, it emitted a powerful wave akin to an EMP, shutting down the shield and freezing the enemy in his tracks as he recoiled from the shock. Open to attack, the party took full advantage of it, but they could hardly put a scratch in the reinforced plating.
Fensal nocked another arrow into his bow, hesitating to fire it. “This is just a doctor but it’s armour is harder than the other robots we’ve fought!”
“Such… violence-!” the Doctor stuttered, recovering from the EMP. “This requires… laser surgery!”
“Why does everything require surgery?!” Augusta cried.
Luckily, his aim was off as a laser was fired from his singular eye, melting a hole through the skymetal walls and piercing to the other medbay. His arms spun around his body rapidly, striking wildly at anything that came close, injecting random medicine into those unlucky enough to be within range, numbing their sense of feeling and relaxing their tense muscles.
“Ouch, stop hitting me, Lilie!” Lorenz complained, trying to aim while pushing away the druid.
“Don’t throw me in the headlights like that!” she snapped. “I will summon Jeffery and Co. to punish you if it happens again!”
“How about you ask Jeffery to punish the doctor?!”
“This is a robot! I summon sharks or flying snakes, I don’t have anything else!”
“Don’t be mad, miss,” the Doctor interrupted, throwing Elmo to the side. “You must want your surgery-”
“I’m talking!” She fired a lightning bolt into the room, heedless of her comrades fighting. Her temper seemed to fly with the bolt and she scratched her head, a little lost in the situation. “Uh, what was I talking about?”
“Something about summoning Jeffery?” Lorenz guessed.
And her temper flared once more.
Recovering from the powerful lightning, the Doctor’s eyes blinked on and off as if trying to reboot. The buzzsaw stopped shredding through Lintelfaden’s armour, stuck in the shoulder as it stopped spinning. Gisella slammed him against the wall and the rest of the team hacked through its claws, disarming it before it could wake up, and overcoming its reinforced plating. With one final blow, Lintelfaden was able to pierce the core and destroy the Doctor.
“Ah, what a long day,” it said as it shut down. “Be sure to leave a review…”
Lorenz shoved away Lilie, ignoring her threats to destroy him, and ran over to the wreckage, eager to salvage what remained. He hadn’t had the opportunity since coming to Earth but his skills hadn’t gotten rusty just yet, easily able to pull out key parts of the machine and store them in the Bag of Holding for later. He tossed Fensal a Nanite Canister, something his android body needed for upgrades, and gave Gisella a cypher to figure out later. Declaring all was salvaged, he offered to heal anyone who was hurt, distracting them as he pocketed the Doctor’s memory drive.
“So, who’s hurt the worst?” he asked.
“I’m just fabulous,” Elmo replied. “Fit as a fiddle, didn’t get thrown around and had surgery.”
“Alright, you’re fine then, anyone else?”
Gisella opened the medkit and started up the automated healing process. “Don’t worry, I think this is how you use this. You just click this button here and-”
Sparks began to fly from the kit and something inside short-circuited, nothing but smoke rising from the kit. And steam rose from Lintelfaden as he personally stormed over, looking fly in his suit and tie, flicking the collar indignantly. He delivered a full lecture on how important technology was and that it was underappreciated; he started to sound a little like Lorenz.
Leaving the halfling to vent and mourn over the loss of his beloved medkit. The rest of the party quietly shut the door and went to medbay 2, the only other door on the ‘level’. The machine they saw spanned the entire room including the floor, walls, and ceiling. It hummed with dormant power, waiting for someone or something, pulsing circuitry flowing in the ground, directing their attention to the two tubes in the side of the wall. One was empty, more than half the size of the other which was filled with some kind of liquid. Lorenz raced over to what looked like a control panel but what would be the buttons were instead four colorful crystals; red, blue, green, yellow, and white.
“Ah, buttons!” he laughed. “Can’t wait to press some!”
Fensal slid his hand against the side of the wall. “The whole room is the machine…! Is this the gene-splicer?”
“It’s the only other room on this tiny level,” Augusta said. “If it is here this has got to be it.” She clapped her hands expectedly. “Lilie!”
Right on cue, she created a leafy portal and dozens of bunnies hopped out, clumsily falling over each other and onto the metal floor. Curiously, they hopped around the room, some leaving, some staying, some hitting the tubes because they couldn’t see the glass; the test bunnies were here.
“Is there a control manual somewhere…?” Lorenz muttered, looking around the control panel. He accidentally hit the white crystal and, though it wasn’t a button, the tube was emptied and they opened.
Bustov tried to think back to what Kwalish had said. “Hmm, you take on the abilities or something of whatever you gene-splice, right? Do you use these tubes?”
“Yeah, probably,” Augusta agreed. She pointed at the small one. “I think you can put something there, then a person can fit in the other one. Only a halfling can fit in the smaller tube.”
“Let’s try it.”
He picked up one of the bunnies and put it in the larger tube while Augusta took some pug fur from ‘Mister Puggins’ and put it in the smaller one.
Lorenz stared at the ugly dog in disbelief. “Wait, what in the world is that?! Is that a dog?!”
“Huh? This is my pet, Mister Puggins!” she exclaimed triumphantly. “You thought we were General Puggins’ Merry Band of Mercenaries for no reason?”
“Don’t question the madness,” Elmo interrupted.
Starting from the first crystal, they pushed the red one and… the bunny was fried. Electricity coursed throughout the entire vat and the heat itself disintegrated the cute herbivore, leaving nothing but dust and the tube opened up. Staring in horror with the bunnies, they hesitated in chucking another one into the death trap.
“Uh, surely we missed a step…” Lilie murmured. “I don’t want my bunnies to be… electrocuted.”
Elmo cocked his head to one side. “There wasn’t any liquid when the bunny was in there. Is that the issue?”
“If the white crystal drains it, I guess it will also refill it,” Lorenz hypothesised.
The theory was correct after they put another bunny inside. Pressing the white crystal refilled the tube with the liquid but the bunny didn’t drown, it could actually breathe fine in the liquid as if it were air. Reluctantly, they tapped the red crystal one more time and the electricity pulsed through both tubes. The gene-splicer reacted differently now, siphoning the energy from the smaller compartment, coursing through the circuitry on the walls, and into the larger tube. Humming as if an engine was running, a final flash of light signaled the end of the process and the vats opened, steam seeping out into the room.
And the bunny hopped out… but its white fur was now brown, the exact same colour of Puggins. But one thing was for certain, the machine works like a charm.
Like kids with a new toy, they started chucking the bunnies into the tube, clicking all the crystals without a care in the world and logging down the effect. They referred to the crystals by name depending on their effect on the animals. Red was ‘appearance’, usually affecting things on the surface like colour. Blue on the other hand created the ugliest bunnies in existence, face of a pug with big front teeth; it was still a bunny but it was stuff out of nightmares; they labeled this effect ‘body’. Green merged ‘characteristics’ together; the bunny still looked totally normal except it started barking and running around the room rather than hopping. And the yellow crystal they labeled ‘useless’ because no matter what they did, nothing would happen at all.
“You ready to step in?” Lorenz asked Lilie, surprised she chose to go first for the gene-splicing.
She handed him a white dragon scale they took from Makau’s puppet. “Yeah, I want to see what would happen from this.”
Getting into the tube, it closed and Bustov immediately shoved Lorenz out of the way. “So we just hit the green one, right?”
“You’ll fry her!” he snapped.
Lilie banged furiously on the vat door until it was filled with the liquid, more terrified than angry that they might hit the wrong combination of crystals. She needn’t worry, Lintelfaden rejoined them and stopped Bustov from going anywhere near the control panel. The electricity pulsed again and the scale was consumed, its power transferred into Lilie. Visions flashed in her mind of the white dragons; its wings, scales, blade-like teeth and claws, gargantuan size; all characteristics that defined a dragon. A certain one shined brighter than all the others moments before the lighting struck her body.
As the tube opened, she stumbled out, saved from falling by her loyal (yet forgettable) knight, Wolfram.
“I completely forgot he existed,” Lorenz admitted.
“He doesn’t do anything,” Bustov whispered. “Stays back and safe from harm, Lilie’s orders.”
“Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a knight?”
Taking a deep breath, she coughed on the steam pouring out but her breath was cold. Slightly surprised, she blew a frigid mist into her hands, causing a thin layer of frost forming on her bodyguard’s armour.
“Ooh! It’s all freezy-like!” she giggled. “That’s fun!”
“Cold breath?” Gisella wondered. “Dragon breath? That makes sense, I wonder how strong it would be.”
They took turns with the gene-splicer, going through the items they had stashed up. From bunny testing, any modification would override the previous one as the gene-splicer cleansed its target before performing the splicing. Lintelfaden and Gisella used their blue and black dragon scales respectively, one returning with small wings on his back while the other gained an acid breath, much like Lilie’s new characteristic. Elmo revealed a vial of troll blood and gained what they concurred was the most powerful thing there was to offer; regeneration. Augusta wasn’t as lucky as the others, trying to gain a trait of the githzerai, particularly their teleporting strikes, but only felt slightly smarter than before.
“So we have dragon breaths, wings, and regeneration and I feel slightly smarter?” she sighed. “I didn’t know it would be a random effect.”
“Well, there was no reason why it would be your choice,” Lintelfaden shrugged. “Wings aren’t the best for me anyway considering I have my suit but I still fit. Would have preferred lightning resistance since that can bypass my armour.”
“Aren’t you going to try?” Lilie asked Lorenz.
“UNITY wouldn’t… approve of me merging myself with impure creatures as she would call them. She only loves very specific pure races; I’m sure human-dragon-gith-troll hybrid isn’t one of them.”
“No merge gang!” Fensal cheered and slapped the cleric’s back.
Bustov placed a vial with black liquid into the small tube. “Well, I am not going to join ‘No Merge Gang’.”
Entering the gene-splicer, visions of telekinetic powers flashed through his mind, a burst of dangerous knowledge for powerful magic. Unorthodox mind spells unlike anything he’s read or seen from wizards were now at his fingertips; dominating any being was the least of these abilities. Unfortunately, his mind lacked the strength or intelligence to perform the arts, gaining one half of the power without the other, rendering it useless for the time being.
“What even was that liquid?” Gisella asked.
“You know that Telepath we fought?” Bustov reminded. “Yeah, some of the goop when it dissolved.” He closed his eyes and focused on the brief visions. “There’s some scary spells in here, one looks like a brain… exploding? But I can’t cast any!”
“Because you’re dumb?” Fensal chuckled.
“Silence, Pencil. I will be the genius of the party then I’ll blow your mind figuratively and literally.”
While they finished up at the gene-splicer, some happy with the results, some not quite satisfied, Lintelfaden checked the rest of the ‘level’. Shuffling through the files at the reception desk, he found a doctor’s certificate and a ten page resumé that belonged to the robot they just found. Stashing them in his suit, he confirmed nothing else was at the Hospitaller Genetica. Luckily, the path here didn’t seem the hardest to reach so if they ever found other unknown monster parts they might pay another visit.
Thank you for choosing our monorail services to travel, an announcer said as they got back on the monorail. Next stop, Level 9: The Gardens.
“A monorail huh,” Augusta murmured. “I wonder what that means…”
‘Mono’ means ‘one’. ‘Rail’ means ‘rail’.
“Oh, thank you! I would have been lost without that helpful explanation.”
The monorail reminded them of a tank but moved much faster than KIT ever could, sending them to their destination within ten minutes. Coming to a complete stop and warning them of the gap, explaining that about 200 people fall between the platform every year, they hopped off and passed through the broken gates and back to the garden. Only now did they realise just how big the gardens were. It was a quick trip with the Gearsmen protecting them, knowing exactly where to go, but no one was making a map. And the level was massive; wide plains stretching out as far as they could see; a forest of towering trees on the horizon; steep hills and inclines making the travel that much more arduous. With only a rough idea that the exit was somewhere west, now was as good a time as any to start trekking.
“You need to make Wolfram fight,” Lorenz explained to Lilie.
“He does!” she protested. “Whenever they come close to me, he’s ready to defend!”
“On the frontlines, not behind everyone else! You’re always across the battlefield anyway ready to run!”
“That’s why he keeps me safe, I am a delicate little flower!” For an elf, she wasn’t too tall, just barely above her knight’s height but that didn’t stop her from patting his head. “It’s a good plan, isn’t it, Wolfram?”
“I’d rather defend at the front,” he stoically replied. Keeping communication to a minimum and obeying every order his Mistress desired to the letter, he would never talk back unless asked for his opinion. Knowing Lilie, that was never.
“We gave him that black sword we got from the Earth Guardian; that’s a Nine-lives Stealer,” Augusta added. “He really should put it to good use.”
“Hrmm, alright, fine,” Lilie consented. “But if I get hit once Wolfram needs to run over and protect me.”
The sounds of battle in the distance interrupted their conversation, spying a lone knight battling off an Aurumvorax. The beast shredded through the metal armour with ease, putting the hero on the back foot. His shield seemed to have the image of a unicorn and a horn on his helmet furthered his belief in the fantastical creatures.
“This is perfect,” Fensal said. “Lilie, send Wolfram in the tank at the front line.”
She cocked her head to one side. “That thing eats metal, Wolfram might be in a bad spot.”
“You’re protecting him more than he is protecting you. Lorenz can mend his armour anyway.”
“Fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Go get him, Wolfram.”
Like a beast finally being unleashed, he wielded the Lifestealer greatsword in a single hand and charged the enemy. One blow was all he needed and he blasted the Aurumvorax off its feet and into the air, tearing through its protective hide with ease. Sending it tumbling down the hill, it dazedly picked itself up and ran away, whimpering and licking its wounds.
Despite this, Lilie still fretted over him, asking him a dozen questions until she was absolutely certain he was unharmed. Even though he was fine she still used her magic to heal him.
“Hail, travelers!” the unicorn paladin greeted. Now that they could get a good look at him, he was a robot through and through, like a slightly upgraded version of the MK I Gearsmen. “I am Paladin Mike, pleased to make your acquaintance!”
Lintelfaden inspected his shield, admiring the unicorn design. “Hmm, I see you’re a fellow unicorn aficionado such as I.”
“A good eye you have there! Yes, this is in the honour of the unicorn that gave me sentience and the ability to make my own choices! A decade ago I was but a humble Gearsmen but suddenly I could follow my own path thanks to a unicorn! The beautiful creature vanished almost as soon as she appeared, and another vision flowed through me, one of fire and flame in a land of red where my beloved unicorn is trapped! I must save her-!”
“Calm down with the exposition,” Gisella interrupted. “We’ve met you for less than ten seconds but now we know your life story.”
“My apologies! I am eager to repay the debt to the two horned unicorn that saved me!”
Lorenz and Augusta looked at each other, thinking the exact same thought. “You mean a goat?”
The talk of the mystical beast reminded Gisella of what she had heard. Searching her bag, she pulled out a broken unicorn horn. “Hmm, we did hear that this horn belonged to a unicorn trapped in hell. I’m not sure if-”
Paladin Mike snatched the horn from her hand and inspected it. “Strange indeed! My savior did indeed have a broken horn! Hell, you say?! What is this ‘Hell’ where my lady is trapped?!”
“Do you have to shout with everything you say?” Fensal sighed.
They explained the situation to the paladin and to Lorenz as this was the first time he had heard of this horn as well. Unsure about the particulars, they knew that there was a unicorn trapped in Hell, though if it had two horns was unknown to them.
“Smells like a side quest,” Lorenz deduced. “But at this point, the Elemental Cults are the side quest.”
Somehow, Paladin Mike started tagging along, loudly proclaiming his travels and experiences. But a strict rule was established that he was not allowed to do anything heavily impactful during combat, warning him to stay back because of ‘xp sharing’ though he didn’t know what that meant. Adamantly commanded, ‘not to take a cut’ he was forced into the backline much to the disappointment of Lorenz.
“If you keep shouting in my ear about goats I’m going to scrap you,” he warned. “Then you’ll never save your goat lady.”
“Perish the thought!” Mike laughed. “I mean only to indulge you in my tales!” Suddenly breaking out of his happy-go-lucky nature, his voice was deep and menacing. “Oh, and it’s a unicorn, not a goat…”
“Not to worry, the sun is setting on the horizon so let us take shelter over there!”
He pointed to what seemed like an ajar door in the side of the hill. Judging from the square shape of the land, the hill formed over the house. Upon closer inspection, the metal door was rusty and vines crawled all around and into the home. Bustov tried to shove open the sliding door but it hardly budged at his strength, grinding against the ground and getting caught on the vines inside.
“Tch, it’s not moving,” he grunted, trying brute force again.
“Let me try,” Augusta offered.
He stared in shock as she slammed it open, crushing the thick vines into paste. Cheering, she led the way into the small room, dimly lit by broken lights.
Nothing had come in or out for decades, perhaps over a century, yet multiple cages each containing a different kind of alien or beast hung from the roof. They didn’t move, staring aimlessly at nothing, some furry others covered in scales, even more were unlike anything they had ever seen before. Much larger cages could be found at the back, a few open but one such contained a massive snail the size of KIT, protected by a prismatic shell.
Of course, Bustov’s first choice of action was to shoot it, releasing a ray of ice but it froze as soon as it entered the cage. Suspended in time, he shot another and the same phenomenon happened. A quick test with a stray rock or branch proved that every cage was in some kind of stasis, unbroken by the passage of time. The creatures were trapped, nothing more than statues to be admired in their terror or beauty.
“Strange, is there a control panel somewhere?” Lintelfaden asked, feeling safe enough to leave his suit.
“Not that I can see,” Gisella informed. “It’s just cages… It could be some kind of time spell that has frozen these creatures?”
“That’s a lot of magic for this many monsters,” Lorenz realised. “And it’s lasted for years on end; no one has opened that door for sure.” He glanced at the door then to the snail, the biggest trapped creature. “It’s big enough to let the snail out… I wonder what this could have been used for.”
They tried to keep searching but Bustov made it extremely difficult to focus, constantly loosing arrows into the snail’s cage. And the Lenz was loud, echoing throughout the room with every shot that crackled with energy.
“It’s going to be great,” he assured. “As soon as the stasis ends, this thing is going to be bombarded with arrows!”
“Fifteen is enough!” Augusta snapped. “Stop shooting-”
The stasis in the cage suddenly shut down and all the arrows struck the snail at once. But its shell reflected the attack back at the party, striking randomly around the room, shaking the strange building as the powerful energy was released at once. The temperature in the room dropped, marks of ice on every surface, barely missing the party as another flew out of the room. Groggily, the snail made its way towards the sunlight, unbothered by the attack, shoving Bustov out of the way. As long as they didn’t interfere with it, it didn’t see them and headed towards the afternoon glow in the distance.
“That could have gone better,” Bustov admitted.
“I told you to stop!” Augusta pointed at a massive tentacled alien, black with beady eyes on every part of its bulging head. “What if you released… that thing?”
“We’re fine, all’s well that ends well.”
The snail stared off into the distance, reflecting the fading sunlight off of its shell, and pushed on towards its future. It was now free to live life again, free from the shackles of the stasis, no more boundaries to hold it back-
“What if we killed it and then gene-spliced ourselves to reflect lasers?!” Lorenz realised.
The entire party seemed to have the same idea at the same time and rushed outside, ready to take more monster parts to combine with themselves. Which, in retrospect, is a very inhuman thing to do. But you know… rainbow snail.