Part 29: Episode 28: Limbus at Last
Episode 28: Limbus at Last
The shuttle repairs were complete. We would rendezvous with the rest of the team and make preparations to make another attempt at Limbus.
Detective Rukh was still loitering on Sender Station. I guess he hadn't finished his investigation yet. Just like old times, he would need me to finish it up for him. I went over to say hello and offer my services again.
He said, "Man, that information you dredged up in Redlight really threw a monkey wrench into my killer's profile. I feel like I've lost the thread. I've been thinking… there's gotta be another angle to this Tetra case that I'm not seeing. I'm trying to step back and look at the big picture, you know? Maybe there's another use for Tetra other than getting a sleep-high. My secretary did some digging around and found a scientist-type on Hephaestus who's looking for funding for his Tetra research. Unfortunately, my boy's resusmed his killing spree, and collectors on every planet from here to Brebula have been robbed of flawless Tetra in the last few days. PAX has me scheduled to planet-hop my way to all of them. If you've got some free time, maybe you could touch base with this scientist. See if you can't uncover some other possible motivation for the Tetra-snatcher. The scientist's name is Brother Morpheus and he's a monk at the Tower of the Grand Mysterium on Hephaestus."
I once again agreed to do Rukh's dirty work, but first I needed to meet up with the rest of the team in the Lounge of Commerce.
Back at the lounge, I explained the situation to Grumpos. "Whatta mean you didn't go to Limbus?" he shrieked, "The existence of the universe is hanging by a thread, and you're taking a break for the holidays? I've written five chapters since the last time I saw you. What have you done? You better get your butt to Limbus before there's no butt for you to save."
Grumpos still refused to go to Limbus with me. Apparently that book was more important than the existence of the universe, too. Whatever his rationale, Grumpos was acting strangely.
I also decided to check in on the Resistance while I was in the neighborhood. Salsa instructed me to pay a visit to Mardoman back on Anachronox. I still had a little bit of business to do on Sender Station before I could go, however.
To cut to the chase, I exchanged more moss with the MugMugs for a Two-One Host, and a MugMug Sluggicell. The MysTech host was more complicated than useful, and the sluggicell, while having a great energy capacity, was so bulky that it slowed me down. Neither item turned out to be useful. I considered keeping the next hunk of sweet moss all to myself. After visiting the MugMugs, we went to see Engineer Recator in the GDP Suites to construct the Laser Array and Nuclear Arsenal Defense System. Then, back in the Lounge of Commerce, I traded my last TACOs for a Cordicom Personal Shieldcell and Hoppercut, one of PACO's weapons that isn't as good as Tumbleslam.
Since all of us had some business to do on either Hephaestus or Anachronox, we huddled into Rho's shuttle and took off. No, we didn't make lots of trips with different groups of three. We all went at the same time.
First off was heading back up to OneGate with Paco. I'd bet my mint condition Metallion Man/Transparrow team up books that the red crystal we saw was a Bloodstone, able to conveniently give Paco the exact power he needs to beat on the bad guys.
My suspicions were correct. When Paco saw the stone he slowly said "Ah… a Bloodstone. This rough ore can make a form of Kraptonite…but first I must irradiate it somewhere."
Luckily we had met a bot on Heph that would do just such a thing. We were already going there to do the Tetra research for Rukh, so this would be no problem. The universe would have to wait.
We took the shuttle back to the Tours section. On the way out to catch a cab, Dr. Bowman was distracted by a shiny computer monitor.
She fiddled around with the screen for a while, and a data port opened up underneath the terminal.
PAL proceeded to interface with the port.
He managed to open up a portion of the wall that was across the street behind us. With traffic moving at hundreds of miles per hour, nobody dared try to run and hit it. Sera threw a handful of loonies at the thing, but was unable to hit the target.
The six of us crammed into the cab with PAL stuck in the trunk and paid the fare to Rowdy's.
Travis, the doorman, tried to flirt with Rho as we walked in. He said, "Hey, I like your backpack. Your tennis are pretty cool too. Wanna see a little picture I drew?"
What a sweet pickup line. And to top it all off, he showed her the deformed stick figure.
Rho contemplated the picture for a while and finally said, "Now, this is really something. I wouldn't have pegged you for an idealist, or a metaphysicist. But you're really both, aren't you?"
"Well, it used to be really important to me that the world saw my art as neither manmade nor natural, but as a mystical creation act. I mean, through its own existence, my work would form a monster which devoured both man and nature. But I outgrew that thinking pretty quickly. With pieces like 'The Commander, Death, Fire, and Dog' here, I've begun exploring the Abstraction of my fantasies."
"Hmm. It seems that your 'fantasies', as you call them, are overwhelmed by your playful line work which seems to dance through this piece like an urban nymph. I find that I enjoy your iconography in a way that the so-called modernists find dull and saccharine, but often intimate."
"And let me tell you, I've had no end of troubles with those 'Die Grunen Affen' fascists with their whiny nonobjective arrangements. They berate me for following my organic whims and what do they do? They all but swipe my creative object-drawings after seeing my 'March of the Aqueducts' last fall at the Nine Hundred and Fourth Brebulan Art Forum. I mean my work wasn't even in the show. But I was drawing it while working the door there, and those monkeys took… no, stole my creation! Why, if I were an angrier warrior-poet I'd do something. I'd sure show them just what kind of new sensibility they're messing with."
"Now, now. We'd lose a gifted muse if you were lost to the violent path. You keep working. I'm excited to see how you develop."
Incredible. I still say it's just an ugly stick figure.
Paco went to grab a drink while I took care of business with Mardoman.
Mardoman cut straight to the chase. "It's been a hectic time, Sly," he said, "We're busy ramping up for the main assault on Detta's Fortress. We wanna strike soon before he makes his move on Sender Station. We've got plenty of high caliber weapons and shieldcells, but manpower is an issue. The only think that will make up for our lack of numbers at this point is MysTech. Thanks to your efforts, Detta's attention is keenly focused on Sender Station. That leaves the large stock of MysTech in our local museum ripe for the plucking. Speed and precision are the key, so we'll need to know the layout of all the exhibits. No need stealing slags we're not gonna use, right? You think you can do some more recon for us? All we need is some shots of each general cluster of MysTech on display in the museum. We can take it from there."
I wasn't sure why Mardoman wanted to steal from the museum. It seemed that if he had the money to buy conventional weaponry, a quick trip to Hepheastus would solve all of his MysTech needs. They were practically giving away slags down there, and there was no reason to believe that the crap on display at the museum was any good for combat anyway. Regardless, I took the pictures he asked.
I returned to Mardoman with the shots. "Excellent," he said while looking through the pictures. "We'll get our elements in place during the next week. In the mean time, here's a little thank-you from the Resistance." He handed me a PsySummon MysTech. As of yet we hadn't found any beetles capable of making Psy MysTech, so this was actually a nice gift. "Stay cool, Sly." Mardoman said as I left his corner of the bar, "In a few weeks, our home'll be rid of a stinkin' cesspool of iniquity that's plagued us for years…"
On the way out we ran into the poor fella whose sock we commandeered. I assured him that his sock would play a role in saving the entire universe. He and his sock would be immortalized in the historical record. With that, everyone's business on Anacrhonox was finished. Now it was off to Hephaestus to take care of a few loose ends.
We landed on the lava planet and made our way back through the slums en route to the Entertainment District. The Hephtram still was broken. As we walked through, I casually mentioned that one of Paco's hero buddies, Transparrow, had somehow ended up down here. His eyes lit up in a way that I had only seen hard liquor provoke.
He walked up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder with his massive mitts. "It can't be. After all these years…My dear, sweet Paco. I never thought I would see you again. Don't you recognize me without my white miniskirt and clip-onn wings? I'm the elusive Transparrow. We teamed up about ten years ago during the Secret PowerGem Hunt. Don't you remember?" She paused for a moment. "…Behind the Transparrow Jet?"
With what could only be superhuman timing, Mr. Invisiblus, who was also only partially invisible by now, entered the house. He called out, "Ina, have you seen my right goggle? I'm late for work."
"Look, dear, who is here. It's 'El Puno'. Do you remember Paco Estrella?"
He shot a sharp look at Paco. "How could I forget? I was in his Giant-Sized Annual. Have you seen my goggle or not?"
"Check under the pillow, dear. You fell asleep with your mask on again."
She tried to explain her husband's rudeness. "He's still bitter that our son, Invisolad, decided to join the Mega Pals instead of the old man's alma mater, The Super Boffo League of Cordica. Consequently, he's cold to anyone in the business. He was so used to life behind the mask. It only seemed natural he would look for work at the factory."
Yeah that's right. This broad was the mother of Captain I-Want-To-Press-The-Emergency-Parole-Button, the reason I was stuck in that icy hellhole with an equally icy dame who thought I was her dead boyfriend.
Paco just sighed. It was obvious he wanted to say something, but the words weren't coming. Mrs. Invisiblus fought to keep the conversation going. "So where you been hiding yourself?" she asked. "When I heard from Hystericlod about what happened between you and Metallion Man, my heart almost broke. When they cancelled your title, I was worried sick you would hang up your cape for good. Everyone knows the brothers went out of business because they were dumb enough to axe the series. Is it true you can't fly anymore, my sweet? Don't let it get to you. Loss of powers happens to everyone. Just look at me. I'm a mess. You always had such a temper, Paco. When Mr. Invisiblus and I retired from the business and settled down, it took time to adjust to domestic life. You know what a raging swinger I was. I had to control my anger at being forced to retire before my time. If there's anything I can do for you, I'd like to teach you how to channel some of that rage you have bottled inside. Would you like to learn some channeling techniques?"
"..Si," Paco muttered.
"Good. You're on the road to recovery, my big sweet potato. Listen up…"
She motioned at us to take a hike while they channeled their rage. Not like I wanted to stick around to watch that anyway. The rest of us went on through the slums toward the Entertainment district.
Toward the end of the poor area, Democratus' sensors picked up some unusual movement on a nearby roof. After lengthy debate, the tractor beam was employed to haul in the object. It turned out to be a cobalt crawler.
Next stop was the Tower to talk to the Tetra researching monk. On the way, PAL pulled me aside to point out the Moon Burger. He said that if Paco was allowed to have his fun, then he should be allowed to play in the ball pit at Moon Burger. I'd just drop him off and let Democratus watch him or something.
The same dopey looking fish from the villain ship…did I really want PAL to go in there?
The ballpit (video) / Backup
I wanted to make this a gif so it would be inline, but I couldn't trim it down well enough…I'll keep trying.
Oh well, I left Democratus and PAL behind and went off into the Monastery.
It didn't take me long to find Brother Morpheus. I had spoken to him once before when I first investigated this place. I told him the story.
"Ah, you're interested in my Tetra research, are you?" He chuckled. "I hope you're here to offer me grant money. My current research shows very promising results. It seems that clusters of Tetra in close proximity to each other effect the tachyon/tardon dispersal rates with high statistical significance. After examining the dispersal patterns and local acceleration distortion, I would postulate that Tetra arranged in close proximity can accelerate ordinary FTL particles to extreme FTL speeds. My current hypothesis is that a large enough clumping of Tetra crystals could, in fact, accelerate a large spectrum of wave-particles to speeds with might be able to break through the temporal barrier. What baffles me currently is what connection this transtemporal acceleration has to the induction of lucid dreams which serves as the current prime market value for Tetra. One might postulate that the local temporal vortex induced by the proximity of the gem disrupts the sequencing rhythm used by the dreaming soul. Theoretically, this would ground the psyche in the correct temporal framework, thus permitting the free wandering of the consciousness through the whirlpool of possibility, unfettered by any frame-referential."
He had lost me back at tachyons. Luckily Fatima was recording the whole conversation.
"You're nodding," he said, noticing my stupor. "Are you expressing acknowledgement or have you fallen asleep? Hello? I see. AHEM. I think we're done here."
The nap was rather refreshing. I went to regroup with PAL, Democratus, and Paco.
I went back to Moon Burger and had Democratus pull PAL outta the pit.
Crap, crap, crap, crap, and a Regenergy Round Plus. I promised PAL another trip to the pit after this Limbus stuff was over if he promised to keep pulling stuff like that out.
Paco and Mrs. Invisiblus were finishing up when we got back to her apartment, and it didn't look nearly as scandalous as any of us had imagined. "…and that's about it," she said, "Simple really, but it will do wonders for your control. Come back and visit any time, sweetness. Mr. Invisiblus works the midnight shift."
For our last piece of business, we once again ventured deep into the MysFac to see Irradiatus. Paco asked him to irradiate the bloodstone. The robot kindly obliged. "Watch as I stab the Bloodstone into the beating heart of awareness!" he cried out as he worked the stone over in the forge. Paco tightly gripped the still red-hot stone in his gigantic gloves and let out an ominous growl. He had recovered the use of his Bloodfire skill.
Since Paco had gotten a chance to goof around on Hephaestus and Democratus was itching to try out his new defense systems (you had to admire the planet's enthusiasm despite its obvious flaws), I kept them in the shuttle and dropped the rest off back at the Lounge of Commerce to keep gramps company.
And we were off to Limbus! (video) / Backup
What the hell was that portal and What the hell came out of that portal were the questions on everyone's mind, but there were more pressing issues. The only suitable landing space was teeming with hostile Limbus wildlife.
I had managed to park the shuttle in the middle of a swarm of angry clam monsters (and a menacing number sixty).
Democratus took the initiative and fired the first shots at the clam fiends with the sensor array Paco found in the abandoned military base.
The Stargent Handcannon was looking rather frail by comparison.
Oh you did NOT just shoot that green stuff at me. Trust me, even though the flare is red, it's green stuff. Green poisony stuff.
Paco was not amused. He crushed the lot of them with his radius rage.
Behind the clam carcasses, I found Wild Moss. It was going to take something better to get the MugMugs to pry this out of my hands.
As we went further, we saw more structures such as these. With any luck we were getting closer to civilization. The absence of skulls on pikes was also reassuring.
More killer fauna! This time two giant snails and an angry hyrax blocked our path.
While the snails sat motionless, the hyrax was busy splitting himself up into ghastly clones and attacking.
This prompted a swift tumbleslam from Paco.
Finally one of the snails took a shot at Democratus.
This made Paco very, very angry.
He glowed red with pure fury and unloaded on the remaining snails. The display of power was frightening. In his prime, I believe he was every bit as potent as the comics made him out to be.
A black bug mound! Already, Mardoman's gift had become obsolete. I picked a few nice beetles and we moved on.
This looked like the entrance to the colony. Cautiously, we went through the tunnel, deeper and deeper into the caves.
After quite a descent, our path was blocked by six grotesque creatures. Three sat behind an impenetrable forcefield while the other three attacked.
Once again, Paco focused his rage with BloodFire.
Each creature, which we later learned were called Sagen Kra, had a destructive breath attack that could inflict one of the six basic statuses.
Paco countered the breath attack with radius rage. While doing severe damage to the three front creatures, the back three were unharmed. One of the front creatures was even killed by the blow.
The forcefield dropped, and the other two monsters switched place with their back row counterparts. Once behind the shield, the wounded were healed.
Paco and I continued the assault with our mass effect bouge skills, killing a few more. Meanwhile, Democratus had been kept pinned down with very strong winky and poison status effects.
Before long, Democratus had recovered from the blows and fought back with his newly constructed laser array, providing the killing blow on the last of the creatures.
When the last of the Sagen Kra fell lifelessly to the ground, the forcefield dropped and we were allowed access deeper into the cave.
Slowly, we continued through the cave (video). / Backup
End: Next time, we'll investigate the underground city of Sesostris with its three and only three points of interest.