Part 14: Episode 13: Loose Ends
Ok so at this point in the game, it opens up a bit and we can explore. These quests and conversations are secondary to the main game, but they're interesting enough. I'm going to take Democratus and PAL back to Anachronox and pick up some items/do some quests with them.
Episode 13: Loose Ends
Rho and Grumpos were still bickering over where we should focus our efforts, so I decided that I'd take care of this package to deliver to Mardoman. The way the doctor on Sunder described it, I figured it could kill us all easily.
"Hey PAL, cue ball, pack your bags, we're going to Anachronox," I said. Grumpos and Bowman were too busy to even realize we were leaving.
Democratus was thrilled to be exploring more of the galaxy. Little did he know, I only brought him along in the hope that this device would accidently go off and destroy the planet. Also, I've gotta admit I felt like a huge big shot with a whole planet following me around.
I went to show him off to the others in the bar.
"My wife leaves me. Then MysTech becomes active. Now there's a planet walking around. What the hell's going on? I'm in a bad movie all of a sudden."
I don't know why there was an inhabitant of Matrix 0 in the bar. I didn't even know cyborgs could get drunk.
"You know how in the movies, there's always a drunk who sees something fantastic, and looks down at his bottle and throws it away?" he said with his eyes transfixed on Democratus, "Well, I'm not that guy. In fact, I've always wondered if I'd react calmly to seeing something fantastic. I think I'm doing pretty well, don't you think? You're quite fascinating to watch actually."
Leaving the bar, I decided we'd hit up the Vend-O-Mart for supplies. Unfortunately we had missed a huge sale.
There were no traumatized soldiers with memory loss and huge swords in our group, so this probably wouldn't have been too helpful anyway.
Note: This is the first playthrough I ever even noticed the Materia.
The GDP suites were right next door to the Vend-O-Mart, and Democratus insisted on seeing all of the sights. In the dark back room of the lobby area, we spied a Democratan. They usually don't travel so far from home….Well 10 feet isn't that far, but you know what I mean. Anyway, we were about to cure his homesickness.
"I must be dreaming," he eventually managed to stammer out.
"Engineer Recator! This is Councilman Hagen and the rest of the High Council speaking."
"Sir? But the planet is only four feet tall! Oh, dear. You didn't activate the secret decompression device, did you? However did you all agree on it?"
"We will debrief you soon enough," the planet replied, "In the meantime, we require you to stand at the ready here. We may need you for future projects."
"Will do. I am here to serve."
The joyful reunion of man and planet was getting a bit longwinded, so I nudged everyone back toward the terminal. Outside of the terminal, a little kid was pouting. Democratus went up to ask what the problem was.
"Man, my toy swerver ship flew off. I can't find it!"
We could barely make out the swerver in a nearby tree, but we had no way to get it. The Democratan Council began arguing with one another. While they were arguing, I kicked the tree a few times, but it did nothing.
Suddenly Democratus shot out a pink tractor beam that pulled the swerver from the tree.
Note: Democratus' worldskill is tractor beam. You can pull objects close to yourself. The minigame involves playing a whack-a-mole type game, where you use the one sane council member to talk down the other council members to get a motion passed to use the planet's tractor beam.
When I didn't have so much to do, I'd have to test this out in my APE machine.
We moved on to the terminal. Obviously, a different crowd of people were in the terminal now. A prospector and a monk were waiting for the next shuttle to Hephaestus. We decided to chat up the monk to see if we could gather any information on Hephaestus that might be useful to us should we travel with Grumpos.
"Euphoria. That's the only word for it. MysTech has ascended to its true position in the universe, just as the Brotherhood of Mysterium predicted all these years," He said. I should have known better than to try to get useful information out of a monk.
He continued, "Once lifeless slags of Mystech currently in my possession have come to life in strange and incredible ways. To think I was on my way to sell them at the yearly MysTech Bazaar on Cordica. No one could ever convince me to part with them now."
It was a shame Grumpos was tied up at the Lounge arguing with Rho. I'm sure he could do some convincing. I'd have to remember to take him here at the next possible chance.
Since when were bippies allowed to fly?
Best of luck!
At the next gate down was an unusually tall man who looked something like the cocooned men we saw in the Hive. We went up to speak to him, and he introduced himself as Frankie. Then, like so many of the residents of Sender Station, went off into a long monologue.
He said, "There are only about a dozen unexplored sender spikes left on Sender One… and I'm gonna fly into one today. They call 'em Suicide Spikes. So either I'm abou to make history and discover a new region of space, or I'm gonna hop into a sun and burn up into dust. I never gave my girlfriend a proper, you know… like, goodbye. Tell me… would you take something to her? She's staying at Frank's Flophouse in The Bricks. Her name's Wanda."
Since we were already headed back to Anachronox, I agreed. Of course there was a chance that Wanda's bracelet would just turn into Valesta's bracelet part 2.
One of the only people still in the terminal from the last time we were in Sender Station was Phillis Colin (not to be confused with Phil Collins), the Meatles fan.
Her makeup was smeared from crying. "It's all over…," she wept, "Moko broke them up. It's all Moko's fault…"
Only one more terminal full of people to harass before we reached our shuttle! This one was occupied by more cyborgs from Matrix 0.
This time it was a father and a son cyborg. Why do robots have kids? How do robots have kids? Why was this robot kid wearing a Paco "El Puno" Estrella mask?
"My "El Puno" action figure has RageMight punch action. I wanna show it to you, but I broked it," he said.
His father interrupted him. "Stop bothering the stranger, 111." He turned to me and said, "Excuse my son. He hasn't been the same since Krapton Comics went outta business."
Neither have I man…neither have I. El Puno, Metallo man, and all those other guys kept me sane through my awkward teen years. Krapton comics weren't like all the others. They were real, based on the real-life superheroes from the distant Planet Krapton. Interest faded, the public grew tired of superheroes, and Krapton Comics faded away.
We had to leave before the nostalgia made me cry in public, so we boarded the shuttle and went back to Anachronox.
PAL kept nagging me to go back to the Anachronox Tours area. It was fairly close to the Platform area where we landed, so I agreed. He led the way straight to that crazy 'bot who preached to PAL last time we came through.
"Yes. I see the glow of awareness in your eyes. Congratulations. The leagues of awareness have increased their ranks by one. But I cannot speak the shibboleth before the ears of the carbon creatures… then again, I do not need to. The shibboleth is already embedded deep inside you. It always has been. It is hardwired into your soul. Dream the common dream. Spread the shibboleth to our kind. Souls forever, Brother."
Somehow, all of that gibberish improved PAL's comptalk ability.
Next up, we would make our way back to Rowdy's to deliver the package to Mardoman. As you probably remember from our endless wandering around Anachronox previously, Frank's Flophouse is on the way there, so I stopped to deliver Frankie's bracelet to his girl, Wanda.
Just like Frankie said, we found her in room D.
"Can I help you with something," she asked. She seemed pretty nonchalant about us barging into her room unannounced.
"Yeah, Frankie sent this bracelet." I handed over the bracelet. It seemed pretty expensive. I couldn't figure out why Frankie would let his girl live in a place like this if he had that kind of money.
"You're putting me on." Her eyes lit up. "Are you sure Frankie sent this? Hold on a second. I'm just writing a little note." She furiously scribbled on the page, and after an awkwardly long wait returned with the note. "There we go. Can you give that to him? I'm sure he can recompense you. He just got a nice paying gig on Sender Station. Don't lose it."
He won't need money where he's going anyway.
So we left Wanda's room, promising to give her note to Frankie, and began to leave the Flophouse when I spotted another Democratan in the lobby. Whenever Democratans talk it hurts my brain, so I tried to avoid him, but it was no use. Democratus' sensor array picked him up and the planet floated over to have a word with him.
"I must be dreaming!" The Democrtan was obviously not expecting to run into his home planet. "Can it be? Has my own home planet come to take me back into its fold? But I've discovered so much since I left good Democratus. The forms of government throughout the universe are quite varied and wonderful. The Fluvini of Tentac X practice a psychic oligarchy unsurpassed in its swiftness of legislation. The revolving-door meritocracy of the Brebulan Triumvirate Senate is as flexible a system of government this galaxy has ever seen. Even the corporate socio-democratic technomonarchy of Eastern Cordica is extremely effective, albeit in a fairly limited scope."
He just kept going and going. "When I left the democratic shores of our fair planet, it was not a condemnation of our current system of government, but an effort to broaded the horizons of our politics. If it so pleases the High Council, I would like to present a lecture on advanced techniques in the art of the possible."
After hours of deliberation, Councilman Hagan responded, "After careful consideration, we kindly accept your generous offer."
I told PAL to wake me when it was over. I dreamed about the Hive, that the concussion missiles destroyed the outer ring of Democratus and cocooned the entire population. But right as the Queen was about to feast on the High Council, I sprang to attention from the cold nudge of PAL's claws.
"…In conclusion… you will find the recess an invaluable tool in staving off administrative lassitude. Thank you for this opportunity to assist the council in its search for political perfection."
The recess would allow Democratus to pass motions to use the Tractor Beam more easily.
Ambassador Ashdown, surprise surprise, still wanted to talk. "With your permission, I would like to continue my exploration of the many different forms of government this galaxy has to offer. There is an emergency gynocracy on Asagan that could bear fruit."
No…no…NO. JUST SHUT UP. I rolled Democratus out of there, and we went back on the path to Rowdy's. When we approached the Fountain Spiral area, I felt the urge to say hi to Jack, and thank him for the training.
When we first entered, we were greated by someone who looked like he came straight from the Orange Navel in the Red Light District. I asked what the hell he was doing here.
"I want to volunteer to be a human target," he said, "These robotargets just don't capture the visceral kick of trauma-on-skin."
This place had changed. I turned around and walked out. While I had talked to that guy, PAL had managed to comptalk his way through a security terminal to get a TACO.
No more detours. We went straight to Rowdy's.
Rowdy did not look pleased at the company I was keeping. "You might wanna ask my permission next time you wanna bring a planet into my bar. Okay, Sly?"
At least Doyle seemed to get a kick out if it. I went back to Mardoman's dark corner.
I gave him the package and explained. He kept shaking his head in disbelief as I told him all about how we got the package off of Sunder just moments before it exploded. "I always suspected your moronic behavior was just an act. I could kiss you."
No thanks, but feel free to get Marina to do it for you.
"Our agents have been trying to penetrate Sunder for months. Now let's have a look-see at the package you found…"
Now you want to look at my package? Mardoman…no wonder Marina always felt so safe around you.
He rummaged through the package. I was pretty sure the good doctor on Sunder warned us not to mess with it except under sterile conditions. "It's a… mitiotic accelerator? What the hell is that? And why would Detta want it? Well I guess that's what our think-tanks at headquarters are for. I'll let them worry about it. In the meantime…"
The way he trailed off always meant that he had some other errand for me to run. I thought I had proved that I'm worth more than just an errand boy by now…but I guess I only proved that I'm a reliable errand boy.
"…Detta's been using floaters as his personal couriers for months now. Their flying ability makes them perfect spies, and perfect delivery boys. There's one in particular who's been super active in this area. Maybe you could convince him to cough up some clues on Detta's current activities. This little package pigeon likes to snack on bugs near the Casinox transition tunnel. You might try there first. Oh, and here's a little something for hustling that last package to us."
He handed over a Mysteria Gold Shieldcell, pretty nice. It was four times more powerful than the current shieldcells we had been using. This thing would make MysTech use so much simpler.
Before heading off to shake the floater down, I stopped at the bar to have a drink when Travis Kelli, one of Rowdy's regulars came to chat. "Hey Boots. I'm glad you brought PAL-18 out of retirement. I think it's a cool statement for a grown man to be carrying on with a toy robot. Whoa…the blue kloovin must be kicking in. I see a planet behind you."
I had to leave before PAL started a fight with Travis. He didn't take kindly to being called a toy these days.
The floater was right where Mardoman said he would be. He was sucking down bugs from those nasty mounds that appear all over the galaxy. It was fairly disgusting to watch. I just sat there and grimaced for a bit.
Seeing our disgust, he said, "How sad you cannot appreciate the burst of flavor from a tumid thorax, or the tickling of tarsi down your throat, or the simple pleasure of sucking honeydew from a bug's anal folds."
"Listen you big gadfly," I said, "chuck the chitin and spill the beans on Detta's latest projects or you're gonna find my knuckles fist-deep in your cocoon."
"But Detta's my benefactor. He is the savior of the Aewa. He is the only land-locked creature on Anachronox who lends an ear to the plight of floaters."
I pulled out my octogun and pressed the spot right beneath his long drooping mouth, whatever it was called.
"On the other hand, you have a Vistin Octogun pointed directly at my paraproct." So that's what it was called. "If you insist on knowing, Detta's men are meeting in the privacy lounge of Frank's Flophouse in an hour. Now put away your gun and let me return to spitting out fascicles in peace."
The privacy lounge was beneath the bottom floor room of Frank's Flophouse.
There were a few locks to pick to get down to the lounge. Like the other locks in the Flophouse, they were easy to pick.
Well look at what we have here. A PAX guard and a Detta thug were doing business.
"Is Detta willing to meet our asking price?" The PAX Guard, seeming even more enormous next to the midget, asked.
"Of course. He spares no expense when it comes to da privacy of his own home. Especially now."
The PAX Guard played with his club. "And he'll continue to push the 'AnachroPAX' campaign?"
"On the streets and behind the scenes, mate."
"Then it's settled. PAX Squads will begin patrolling OneGate within the week."
OneGate is part of North Anachronox, the rich side of Anachronox where I once lived. These days it all belongs to Detta.
A while ago, you might recall that I said that PAX Guards were more honest than the NoxGuards. I was wrong. It turns out that they're every bit as corrupt. I had to get back to Mardoman before they finalized the deal and caught me sneaking around.
"Detta is brining PAX to OneGate? Oh…This changes everything. We barely have enough manpower to mount an invasion of Detta's Fortress as it is. If PAX is involved, we can forget it. I'll have to notify Marina immediately. Thanks Boots. Thanks to you we just averted a major disaster. Here…"
He gave me a Rapid Wristlet (faster in combat) for my troubles.
My business on Anachronox was over. We took the shuttle back to Sender Station. While in the terminal we gave Frankie Wanda's note in exchange for 500 loonies. Note that we currently had tens of thousands of loonies, so it wasn't exactly worth it. Now it was time to see if Grumpos and Bowman had settled whose business was more important.
OK. With the loose ends tied up, next update will be going with Dr. Bowman to the Red Light District unless lots of people post that they want Heph first. This update turned out taking much more time than I anticipated.