Part 17: Episode 16: Memory Lane
Similar to the update right before the Red Light District stuff, there are a few things to do on Anachronox that I'd like to get out of the way before heading off to Hephaestus.
Episode 16: Memory Lane
That was a sobering little presentation Doctor Bowman put on. So sobering in fact, that I had to down a few beers to counteract it. While nursing the brews, I decided to talk to Sera. We had so much catching up to do. Where the hell had she been?
"Scary stuff, Sly. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I'd offer my help if I didn't think it would cramp your style," she said.
"First you gotta tell me where you've been the last two years."
"Around. It's been the best two years of my life, Sly. I've been all over the galaxy… learning, training, improving myself. I've had a grand ol' time. It's amazing how much you can accomplish in a short span of time if you just get off your lazy duff and make something of yourself."
Yeah, I saw that coin throwing thing, really impressive, sister.
"Sounds like a plan," I said, "Where's a good place to buy a choker and pasties?"
She replied, "You know, you oughta try letting your hair down sometime. Put your life in perspective."
"You mean become an exotic dancer like you? I've been down that road, honey."
"I was undercover. I've been tracking down those worms for weeks. When I found out they were regulars at the Sex Machine, I couldn't resist. It was exhilarating. I got to pretend to be someone else, and everyone in there was looking at me. What more could I ask for? I'm glad you got to see it actually. I'm not that girl you used to know."
"Yeah, I don't remember you knifing down strangers for fun."
"They weren't strangers. They were flunkies for Detta. They deserved to die. Just like Detta's accountant on Sender Station, and the two lawyers I popped on Cordica. They had it coming, and you know it. You got a problem with that?"
I did, actually. But I couldn't help but feel it was my fault she was like this. If only that night had turned out differently…Maybe taking her back to Anachronox would do her some good. Before heading out, I checked with Salsa to see if he had anything he wanted to tell Mardoman.
Salsa had some things on his mind. "Detta cut a deal with PAX? This puts a new spin on things. I'd wondered why PAX added so much heat around here, lately. I should've known that story about a museum break-in was bogus. I mean who would make such a fuss over a stolen museum exhibit?"
Yeah…totally bogus story.
Mardoman continued. "Maybe Detta's failure to expand his economic interests to Sender Station forced him to change strategies. If you get a chance, try to get word to Mardoman of our situation up here."
Will do, pal. I grabbed PAL and Sera and headed back to the shuttle. The old team was back in action. It would never be quite like before, but it still felt good. Even though Sera put on the hard act, I could see in her eyes that she was happy too. We took Dr. Bowman's shuttle back to Anachronox and then grabbed a cab to Rowdy's.
Rowdy had managed to take a miniature planet walking through his bar in stride, hardly even looking up from the glass he was cleaning, but when Sera came in he almost dropped that glass.
"I'm overjoyed to see you, Sera. I'd feared the worst when you disappeared. You look great, you really do. You look… how do I explain it? You look free. I'm glad you found Sera and patched things up, Sly. You've been acting so…grown-up lately."
I suppose he was right, except for still strutting around town with my 'bot I was doing pretty well. I went back to give Mardoman the score.
"The increased PAX security on Sender Station is too much of a coincidence. Time's running out, and we gotta hit Detta's fortress before things get completely outta hand. Unfortunately my best agents are busy acquiring firepower for the raid, so preliminary reconnaissance on the newly-installed PAX regiments in OneGate remains undone. Interested in a little camera recon? I need pictures of each PAX Guard checkpoint in OneGate so we can make a fair assessment of what we're up against. One of our operatives acquired OneGate passes. He'll be waiting for you with the tickets in Joe's Diner outside Anachronox Tours."
I agreed to take on Mardoman's job. It had been a year since I'd lived in OneGate. At the least I was curious to see how things were up there. Upon hearing the assignment, Sera's lips twisted into a cruel smile. She wanted revenge.
We walked up to my office. It was a far cry from what she was used to. I remembered that I now had two APE cartridges, bugaboo and ox. We went back to see if they worked.
PAL said, "I remember when Mister Boots bought that. He made me play 'Fighting Fight' with him for seven and a half hours. I kicked his butt." Only because I let you little man.
Under he breath, Stiletto added, "Boots, Fatima, PAL, and I used to play 'Pooper Party' for hours. I miss those times…"
There was no time to play a round of Bugaboo though. We needed to head to Joe's to get the OneGate tickets. We took a brief stop at Zordo's to see if there was any new stock.
Anyway, it was always fun to see who was in the market for a gun, like this goony looking kid.
"It runs out my brother-in-law has a fifth degree black belt in Brebulan Palo Fighting. Let's see how good he is at kicking down bullets."
There were no new items in stock, but I guess the Zordo clone was feeling generous that day.
He turned to PAL. "Hey, little fellow, I have something for you! What with all the ne'er-do-wells running about, one sometime needs to aid their compatriots. Hope you an use this."
The Conduit Upgrade would allow PAL to transfer NRG in battle.
We hailed another cab to get to Joe's diner. Mardoman's man was waiting just inside.
And so we walked just up the street to the Tours building, and boarded our shuttle.
Yeah, OneGate is the nice part of town.
We can't kill them until AFTER we get the photographs back to Mardoman. Of course the worst part is that I was one of them once.
Taking a maintenance path down to get down beneath the platform we found a black market merchant.
From all of the fighting and odd jobs that we had taken up, we had enough cash to buy the Regenergy Round, which restored health during battle.
There was also a strange red crystal nearby.
It was so hot I couldn't get near it, let alone touch it. Not even PAL could approach it safely. You would need some pretty heavy duty meathooks to have a chance at picking up this thing.
We continued through the terminal until we were pulled aside by a well-dressed Cordican.
"Hey, you guys look like regular folks. Maybe I'll ask you…I'm working on slogans for the new Sucrosa ad campaign, but I've got writer's block. Since I couldn't think of anything good, the top brass is gonna go with Johnson's slogan. You wanna hear it? Get this…'Sucrosa… a beacon of taste for the children of tomorrow.' How highbrow. It's so highbrow it doesn't make sense. I prefer the old slogan… 'It's the most-a.'"
I knew that eventually I'd run into someone from my old life. It turned out to be Aldrin Pinkgold, an old drinking buddy.
"You're kidding me. Sly? Sly Boots? Where the hell have you been? We were gonna meet at Club Metron, but you never showed. That was what… two years ago? I dropped by your office a few weeks later and it was being rented out to someone else. It was like you dropped off the face of the earth, man. I hope this wasn't over anything I said about Sera. I was always making jokes… but that's all they were. Jokes. Hey, we should hook up for some drinks some time this week. Catch up on old times. Are you guys coming back from a costume party or something?"
I could only sheepishly grin and nod and assure him I'd catch him at the club sometime.
You can tell OneGate is where the money's at. They have trees…mutant cubic trees but trees nonetheless.
I stealthily snapped pictures of the PAX guard implacements while avoiding mutilation.
And we took a brief detour to spit on Detta's place. Sera seemed to be sizing it up.
After taking the pictures we ran back to Mardoman.
"Great work, Sly. Can I call you 'Sly'? This gives us a definite edge when we make our move. I'll need back that OneGate pass, but here's our thanks for your efforts."
He handed me a FreezeCubist MysTech.
In reality, I didn't go back to see Mardoman because I want to hold onto the OneGate pass for a while for when I need to get back to the crystal. I actually ran into the MysTech tunnels to get a FreezeCubist.
The trip down memory lane was fun, but we had a universe to save.
End: Next time we'll travel to Hephaestus, planet of light jazz.