Part 2: Episode 2: I don't know Jack.
This update ended up being a bit longer than I had expected it to be due to the training sessions with Jack.
Episode 2: I don't know Jack.
I was finally outside of Rowdy's bar. It had taken longer than I had expected to get my stuff together. From Rowdy's bar it was still a bit of a walk to get to Frank's Flophouse.
As I made my way along the path to The Bricks, an Aewa, colloquially known as a floater, called out to me, "You there! You're friends with Rowdy. Why does he discriminate against floaters? I only want something to drink and an interesting conversation. We Aewa are an intelligent, well-spoken race. My cousin, K'Conrad, is the master informant of The Bricks. You should look him up. He likes to hang out at the Fountain Overlook. In exchange, maybe you can talk to Rowdy about letting me drink in the bar."
Master Informant? I didn't buy it. I had worked these streets long enough to know which cages to rattle, and I've never heard of any K'Conrad Khk. And why would a floater be hanging around Rowdy's anyway. It stank of setup. Despite my skepticism, I made a mental note to visit him if I was in the area.
About halfway down the path, I was just walking, minding my own business and...
This happened / Backup.
His sister? People's reasons for hitting me were becoming sketchier and sketchier. Luckily there were no windows for me to be thrown from this time. Fatima seemed to know about this Whackmaster Jack guy, so I figured I'd give it a shot. At least that would get her to quit bugging me about it.
I hate this place. / Backup
Bruised, beaten, and with a smashed pistol, I had at last managed to limp into the heart of South Anachronox, The Bricks. I really was in no mood to navigate through this Escheresque hell.
A NoxGuard. No red smears on his baton, so I figured maybe that kid Marina was looking for was still ok.
The guard looked over the rail and shook his head. "Poor creep fell forty feet to his death. The gravpath up there musta malfunctioned. Makes you wonder if you'll be ready when your number is up. Will you have lived the life you wanted to live?"
A NoxGuard waxing philosophical? Now I had seen it all.
"Yeah it's a damn shame," I began, "Ever since I was little I've had night--"
The guard turned and waved his baton at me violently. "Hey! How long have you been standing there?" he yelled. "Get your kisser out of here before I scutch the teeth from your FAT face."
That was more like it.
I walked away from the NoxGuard before he decided to club me for seeing his moment of weakness. Whackmaster Jack's would be just ahead.
The sign read, "Whackmaster Jack's - Where the elite meet to beat." This was the place all right, but on second thought, I wasn't really in the mood to get beaten up again, certainly not by the elite. Frank's Flophouse was just a little ways further. I could check it out and hit up Jack for training on the way back.
Of course it was just my luck that the meatbag from before was in my way. I thought that maybe he would just let me pass. It's not like he'd try something with the Noxguard so near.
He grunted as I tried to walk past him. "What now? You wanna get past me? Where are your manners, punk? How about you say the magic word?
"How about I knock your teeth out?" I threatened back.
He wasn't too impressed with my threat. "With what? Your bare hands? I smashed your cannon, chief. You're a joke. You've had enough beat-down for one day. How 'bout you get outta my stare before I club you down again?"
"How about I learn some move at Whackmaster's and try 'em out on your face?" was the best retort I could think of. My wit had failed me.
The ogre fondled his club and laughed. "Bring it. I look forward to wiping my boots on your hair."
By the way, if you've never been to Anachronox, there's really only one place that you need to visit. Here's a picture.
Quite a sight, eh? It's called the fountain simply because for all we knew the aliens made it just to be pretty. But on that day, I didn't have time for sightseeing. I had to go see Jack.
And in I went.
Just inside was a musclebound brawler who was unusually well spoken. "Fortunate, is it not, that such a place as this exists?" he said. He flexed. "I have nothing to fear in the dark of the night, for I have beefy whacking at my disposal!" Meanwhile, I have to fear for my life in broad daylight. The titan continued using his unusually refined speech, "Last night, while strolling home, someone was following me. I could tell by the sound of his dainty footfalls that he was a ruffian of the most degenerate sort. Just as he came within my grasp, I unleashed high-octane beefiness on him!"
When I came into Jack's, I was afraid that everyone would be a bloodthirsty psychotic killer. If his story had stopped at this point, I would have considered that I had misjudged Jack's patrons.
But he kept talking. "I broke him. Snap for snap. Bone for bone. I held him like a giant paintbrush, spelling out my name on the wall with his blood."
Suddenly I felt the urge to leave before the guy defended himself against me.
As I quickly walked away from him, I stumbled into a guy who looked exactly like my assailant from before, red cybernetic eye and everything. I braced myself for the impact from his club but instead he asked me, "To hit, or not to hit?"
Given my outrageous fortune so far, I chose to avoid his slings, arrows, and clubs and meekly answered, "Not to hit."
He looked down at his club and said, "You're right. Forgive my violence," and walked off. If only everyone were so easy to dissuade from pummeling me.
Just ahead, I found the inner sanctum of the famed temple of beating, and to be quite honest I wasn't impressed. The enormous brawler in the ring was up against three pathetic 'bots whose combined size couldn't compare to one of his fists. I also spotted one of Detta's goons who was too busy enjoying the spectacle to notice me.
A pair of Brebulans were babbling in the far corner, up to no good no doubt.
While checking the place out I couldn't help but notice an unkempt man with a squirming, squeaking bag that smelled like rotting flesh. He noticed my puzzled expression and said, "Stang: Lookin' at my bag o' glodents, eh?"
I said, "I have no idea what a glodent is, but yeah your disgusting bag caught my attention."
I should have just ignored him and walked on by. He went into a long spiel about the things. "I been collecting glodents for ten long years now. I know ALL about 'em. Glodents are odd rodents bathed in neutron radiation. They fuel your shield cells and power belts, so they're a definite MUST if you're gonna get into any scraps. They were originally discovered on Hephaestus, the lava planet where all those wonky monks live. Glodents are easy to breed, and easy to raise from similar, non-radiated rodents."
"Radiated Rats? An alternative fuel?" I figured he must have been jerking my chain.
"They're such a cheap power source, everyone is using them now," he insisted, "Even Cordicom finally got in on the action and markets them. The only real nasty thing about them is their odor. And the fact that shield cells and power belts consume them: lock, stock, and whisker."
He reached in his bag and pulled one of the critters out. "Here. Take one. It's worth 40 NRG. But don't get too friendly with it. They're meant for fuel, not companionship."
I took the disgusting rodent -I'm not sure why since I had no shield belt- and thanked him, hoping that one day I could somehow repay him this great favor.
A short yet dignified looking man was leaning lightly on a cane and puffing a cigar while watching the beast in the ring tear the limbs from the training bots one by one. This was the legendary whackmaster. He came up to me and said, "Judging by the choice condition of that shiner, I suspect you're here to learn the fine art of the scuffle. The beat. The whack. Know then I don't take loafers and I don't take thieves. I take students. And I expect respect. Gimme any lip, and I'll fatten it. Before we being, however, there's the small matters of my training fee. Knowledge isn't cheap... but for a mere five loonies, we can begin our first lesson."
I forked over the cash. "Very good," he said, "Let's begin with a crash course on simple combat. The streets of Anachronox hide all manner of threat, and you would do well to learn some basics. Come, step into the ring."
SenderNet entry for 'Canadian Dollar' posted:
Due to a freak of galactic commerce, this has become the standard unit of currency for the galaxy. Some areas still use non-digital money. The one-dollar coin is called a "loonie", because it has a loon on the back.
We walked into the ring where a lone training robot was already standing. This was to be my opponent. Jack took a long puff of his cigar, blew a smoke ring into my face, and began the lesson. "If you're gonna learn the Way of the Whack, you better cut jack-wise and beef up on the fundamentals. Some of this will seem simple. Basic even. But unless you got a firm grasp of the firm grasp, you're gonna be cougin' up teeth instead of wisecracks next time you're in a scuffle. Got it?"
"Yeah, sure. Whatever, let's just get this going," I said. I wasn't a fan of being talked down to by a cripple.
"So let's learn the basic abilities and concepts that can make even an infirm bag o' loose change like yourself into a bastion of Beat-hood."
Jack then went into a discussion of the three main characteristics of a good fighter:
and Wisdom, of which I possessed none according to Jack. Jack's attitude was wearing thin on me. I had been biting my tongue through his whole tirade, but I couldn't hold back anymore. I said, "Hold on a sec, chief. I came here to learn how to fight. So far all you've done is explain really obvious concepts while giving me the verbal smackdown. You gonna teach me something useful or what?"
Jack pointed his cane at me. "If you wanna learn something, take your medicine and bridle your tongue. If you get frazzled this easily, you're gonna get sandbagged by the first scrapper you lock horns with. If you wanna size up an enemy on the quick and make fast tactical decisions in the thick of the thick, drop your pride and use your brain. Your BRAIN, squab."
I didn't want to see his cane in action on my face, so I did my best not to roll my eyes.
"These three attributes, Might, Agility,and Wisdom, are what determine how good you are at all of your various skills. Until you really understand these "obvious" ideas, you're hopeless. Get me? Now pay attention: the main skills used in battle are Beefiness, Beat, Speed, and Beat Block."
Jack proceeded to tell me more obvious facts about the four basic skills. Speed makes me faster? No way! I nodded off a little but but snapped to attention when Jack said, "With me, squab? Self improvement's what separates us from the animals." He pulled out a gun from…well he doesn't have any pockets so I don't know where. "So does a high caliber Beat pistol, which is noticeably absent from your person.
"Yea, well, about that, see, I..." I stammered.
Jack wasn't interested. "Save it. It happens when your clientele are mostly deadbeats. I'll let you have this old Vistin pistol. It's old. It's beat-up. But it's better than a bare-knuckle blood fight. Wherever you are whatever you're doing... ALWAYS have your weapon equipped at all times. The last thing you wanna worry about when alley goons are kicking your teeth into kibble is getting out your sidearm and loading it. Here. Take it and equip it. Now let's see if you can shoot straight, boss."
I squeezed off a round into the target drone. Right between the eyes.
But then the drone walked up and decked me. So basically I paid this guy to let his robots punch me in the face.
Meanwhile Jack was doubled over in laughter. "HA! Did you think he would just take a poke without fighting back? Can't stir up a hornet's nest without getting stung. Not bad, kid. But you need to loosen up. You hold the gun like it's a dead rat. You gotta wrist it better. You got plenty of potential, but don't let it go to your head. Especially after seeing what that Robot Droid did to you with ONE hit."
Actually, I did expect him to take a shot without fighting back. That's kind of the whole idea of target practice. I guess Jack realized what a monumental asshole he was being since he quickly dropped the laughter and got really generous.
He said,"You're gonna need a ton of tutoring if we're gonna shape you up into a bastion of unstoppable Beat-hood. I'll tell you what... I wouldn't normally do this, but you can't learn or pay me if you're dead. Some porker paid me with a Life Cursor Shield Upgrade. Since I don't even own one, why don't you take it? No really, you caught me on a generous day. Go ahead and apply the upgrade. I'm curious to see if it's got any guts."
The upgrade was easily worth a few hundred loonies, and it would end up saving my hide quite a few times. So despite the killer robots, I was still grateful to Jack.
Jack's moment of compassion was soon over. Pointing at the attack drone he said, "But enough talk. Let's use your new Battle Skill. Let's cut it up, boy."
I threw up the shield. On some level, I think that Jack gave me the shield just as an excuse to use me as a punching bag some more.
The robot once again planted his fist in my forehead. This time the brunt of the blow was absorbed by the shield. "Excellent." Jack said, "Last time the Robot Target hit you for 85 damage. With the upgrade screen he only hit you for 39! Quite a difference."
He sent the target droid away, motioned to the exit and said, "Well congratulations, squab. You survived your first lesson. Now that you know the basics, we can build on them. As part of the introductory offer to the Temple of Beating, every new client gets 2 HealGrease Plus at the end of their first lesson. Judging by the way that robot beat you around, you're gonna need it. Come grab me again when you're ready for your next lesson."
Even though I had just slept through his lecture, minus the beating parts, on the most basic principles, I still felt a little stronger when it was all over. Maybe there really was something to this place. It was time for another lesson.
I told him to bring it.
Back in the ring, Jack began lesson 2. "Crack your knuckles, pull up your socks, and let's begin. The next major element you need to learn about is distance. The distance between you and your enemies can make all the difference in the world. For example, someone who fights with their bare hands or a stick needs to be close to their enemy in order to land a blow, while someone with a gun can attack from further away."
He was doing it again.
Jack picked up on my frustration. "Don't roll your eyes at me squab. For all I know you haven't a cent of common sense in that cranium. Until you prove otherwise, I gotta state the obvious. There are two attack types: Melee and Range. Melee attacks require the attacker to be close, while Ranged attacks can be done from a distance."
Not only was he telling me obvious stuff, but it was the same obvious stuff from ten seconds ago.
Jack raised his cane again. "I saw that. I swear to Klaz, son...you roll your eyes at me one more time, and I'll knock 'em out for good. You hear me? How about we beat some of that attitude outta you. Let's try an exercise. I'm gonna set the Robo Target to Melee attack only. Try avoiding it for as long as possible using the move button. Let's see how far those chicken legs get you."
Like Tetris, the game would never end until I lost. I ran as fast as I could while Jack slowly increased the robot's speed via remote control while laughing maniacally.
Eventually the robot caught up and I suffered another devastating blow.
"Excellent," Jack said while I was still reeling from the hit. "You're a slippery one. Might save your life some day, squab. Not the most useful tactic in battle, but it's nice to know your options in a pinch."
Jack pulled out a small vial and said, "Listen, if you're gonna make a habit outta gettin' slapped around every time I throw you in the ring, I better teach you how to heal yourself. I personally recommend Cordicom HealGrease for all your healing needs. The antibiotic healing grease prevents scars, infection, and relieves pain. It's a specially formulated compound salve that works instantly on humans, non-humans, and bots alike. I imagine a downtrodden bastard such as yourself should keep one handy at all times."
He tossed me the Heal Grease. "Luckily for you, Cordicom gives me a free supply of standard HealGrease every month for endorsing their product. Here's a sample tube."
The stuff felt incredible as I applied it liberally to the robot fist indentation on my face. Jack interrupted my euphoria. "Pay attention, son. The wandering mind is the first to get torpedoed. Feels nice doesn't it? You can never have enough HealGrease, so stock up when you have the chance, m'boy. On the other hand, HealGrease is unnecessary if you never take damage in he first place... which brings us to our next exercise."
My old nemesis, the smileyfaced combat drone was in the ring, but Jack had also added a few extra gadgets in the middle of the ring. He instructed me to activate the switch to my left.
Finally the moment had arrived to take my revenge! "Take this opportunity to show 'em bedlam with your Ranged weapon," Jack instructed me.
I unloaded a couple dozen rounds into the robot. "You're making progress, squab," Jack said. "Just realize that having a Range weapon doesn't always mean you'll hit your intended target. Line of sight can come into play during battle as well. For example, if someone stands directly between you and the enemy, chances are you won't target them and vice versa."
After "teaching" me that I couldn't walk through force fields, Jack moved straight into the master lessons on not being able to shoot through solid objects.
Jack must have picked up on my frustration. "Okay, okay... I can see you're gettin' that insolent look again. We better end this lesson before you push me too far and I cane your face. Come grab me again when you're ready for your next lesson."
At least I had gotten a cool upgrade to go along with Jack's insults this time.
I went to talk to Jack again for my third lesson.
He said, "You're almost ready to graduate from the Temple of Beating, but there's still a handful of tricks left to show you. Why don't we step into the ring for your final lesson?"
It looked like it was time for training bot and I to square off once again. Jack began the lesson. "Some adversaries you encounter will have attacks with lingering properties. These effects are called Status Effects. Take for instance, the Bindle Bag. When you throw one at an enemy, they will experience a burn status effect until the flames go out. The same is true if someone nails you with one too. Here. Take these Bindle Bags and test 'em out on our friend here."
Jack must have figured that I was to pathetic to ever learn how to fight and my only hope was to blow my opponents up.
The training drone disintegrated in a cloud of orange smoke. Such would be the fate of all who chose to cross me. "Nice," Jack said. "Looks like you blew off some of his fiddly bits."
Jack paused as another robot came in to sweep away the remains of the other. "As you can see," he said, "Status Effect items make excellent weapons in battle...but with better weapons comes the need for better defense. That's where SHIELD CELLS come in. Shield cells give you an extra layer of protection, forcing your enemies to chew through your shields before they can get to you."
Jack produced a shield belt --to this day I still have no idea where he kept all this stuff-and said,"I'll let you borrow an old Shield Cell for training purposes, but don't even think about running off with it. Even my worst shield cell is worth more than everything you own. Except, maybe the LifeCursor. Alright, Let's test this sucker out."
Another robot target was hauled into the ring.
The hit still smarted, but at least I wasn't about to pass out. I decided to conserve my dynamite and let this robot live. And with that my training was complete.
Jack gave me some parting words. "It's the last and most important advice I'm gonna give you, son: Invest in a shield pack. Now give it back before you "forget" to return it. And with that, I send you off into the great, big, wonderful world of beating strangers, m'boy. Whackmaster Jack can teach you no more. Anything else you're gonna learn you gotta earn at the cost of your own blood out there in the field where it counts.
Give and take, cut and thrust, make 'em bray, and never be afraid to shoot 'em in the ding-dong. Take care, kid. Don't die dumb or anything. Although in your case I guess that's inevitable. Pleasant journeys."
That was almost an uplifting speech until the end. I learned almost nothing from the man, but at least I had a weapon, an upgrade for Fatima, and some heavy explosives. It was time to set Ppaki straight. This time, I'd be ready.
Ppaki was no longer guarding the path. If I could have passed him by waiting back at Rowdy's and knocking down a few cold ones, I would have been pissed.
But the creep was just around the corner, right in front of the
Using all of my newfound beefiness from Jack's training, I did epic battle with the brute.
The Epic Battle. / Backup
Ok, maybe it wasn't so epic. Honestly, Jack didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but a single bindle bag turned Ppaki into burgundy mist.
Bug mounds like this one were common all over the galaxy, not just Anachronox. In fact, scientists have yet to find a planet without them.
With Ppaki vanquished, I could take the gravpath to the rest of the city where Frank's Flophouse, my only job lead, was.
I always get a little nervous going up the grav paths. But my number wasn't up that day.
On the way to Frank's, I stumbled upon another disturbance. Apparently a woman had been mugged on the gravpath. That was nothing new, but the description of the perp caught my attention. A NoxGuard was interrogating the victim.
He asked, "What did he look like?"
She thought for a moment and said, "Bandana and ponytail, I think. I don't remember. It happened so fast. I'm pretty sure he was shirtless and his nipples were pierced. And I think I caught of whiff of spasm perfume."
"Hmm. Did you notice anything funny about his eyes?"
She responded, "Now that you mention it, one eye was completely red." The perp sounded an awful lot like Ppaki.
"Then he's a member of the junkyard 20 gang," the officer explained. "Their numbers have grown ever since the Sacred Fools disbanded after the sewer wars. Admission to the junkyard 20 requires a painful rite of passage. They hollow out the inductee's left eye with a Gorian heat fork and some disinfection acid. Then a ruby robo-eyecup is stuffed in the empty socket. I doubt we'll find your purse ma'am, but I'll see what we can do." After today, I guess that would make them the junkyard 19 gang.
The woman got up to go home and said, "Thank you officer, you're so unbelievably nice for a NoxGuard."
"Would you like me to walk you home, ma'am?" The NoxGuard's true intentions came through.
She laughed. "Heavens no, my dog would disown me."
A bystander couldn't help but laugh. "Now that's high comedy, folks," he said.
"NoxGuard: Hey, shut up!" And the guy was never seen again.
I didn't know what I'd done to earn the ire of this junkyard 20 gang, but I'm sure I didn't make my position any better by blowing up one of their members.
I took the elevator down in the direction of the flophouse. The Fountain Overlook was on the way as well, so I could check out that floater on the way.
Like I said, the overlook was just up the path. It was time to pay the K'Conrad Khk a visit.
Interview with an Aewa(video) / Backup
Like most floaters he oozed creepiness. I wondered how the hell would anyone know about Earl? He was new in town, so I knew he was working for one of the major players, likely someone that had known me since childhood. I realized that I would have to be careful what information I traded him.
I took the lift to the Casinox area. The Flophouse was nearby Casinox. Given my luck today, it wouldn't be wise to gamble. Detta owns the casino anyway. He doesn't allow debtors in.
That was not good. NoxGuards were asking about Marina. Maybe the gravpath malfunction was just a cover for a hit on Yerocan. The resistance had been around for a while back then, and there had never been any NoxGuard interest before. I wondered whether Marina actually had something that could hurt Detta. I knew I couldn't sell Marina out, but when the NoxGuards found out she's at Rowdy's there was no way my lie would hold up. I had to make a choice before the NoxGuard took my hesitation as in invitation to brutalize me.
End: This update ends here because I was originally going to let the thread decide whether to sell Marina out or not. I have since decided that this is a bad idea.
Will Boots be beaten up by a stranger again today? What's going to happen to the Resistance? Will Boots ever make it to Frank's Flophouse without being sidetracked?
I promise the answer to at least two of the above…Next time on Let's Play Anachronox!