Part 3: Episode 3: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Marina
Episode 3: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Marina
There was no way I could sell Marina out to Detta, but I also couldn't immediately run back to warn her. Turning around now would have looked far too suspicious. By the time I got back to Rowdy's, there would be a whole squad of NoxGuards there to greet me. I'd finish up my business at Frank's before running back, perhaps even gaining some more information to help Marina.
As I entered the CasiNox area, I heard screams coming from down a side street. Curious, I raced around the corner to see what the disturbance was.
"Right. Man on Fire," I said to myself. I figured that was code for the NoxGuards brutalizing some poor schmuck around the corner.
So it was fairly unexpected to see an actual burning man. Far cooler than the festival. Luckicly for me, Frank's wasn't down that way anyway.
Elevators are essential in Anachronox. They connect potentially shifting parts of the planet. The number of mid-transition crushing deaths has more than halved since they were installed.
Ghalla's was also along the path to Frank's. They do just about everything here, from limb transplant and reattachment to robot repair and modification. I decided to duck into the clinic immediately after getting off the elevator to shake any tails I had on me.
As soon as I walked inside, I saw a PAL-20 owner whining about his busted bot. Sure the 20s had a few more bells and whistles compared to the 18s, but weren't nearly as customizable and they invariably broke down within a few years. I wished I could get his battery to power up my bot.
A new guy was working the storefront. "Hey, is Ghalla around?" I asked.
He nodded his head. "Yeah, she's somewhere in the back. You a friend?"
"We go back a while. She's helped me through my fair share of brushes with death."
"Ghalla ever tell you how she got into this business?" he asked. She hadn't. He said, "She started her career as a cyberneticist. But when her son was nearly killed in a swerver accident, she devised a radical, new grafting process to save him. It was a major advancement in traditional bio-melding techniques. Ghalla's a multimillionaire, but she insists on working the shop herself... here on Anachronox of all places. She said something about the bricks needing her help most."
I always knew that Ghalla was a kickass lady, but not like this. "Wow. That's quite a story there."
"Don't tell her I told you though," he chuckled, "Mom would kill me." He let me around the back to see his mom.
There was a TACO just lying on the ground. A Totally Arbitrary Collectable Object. They were big back a few years ago, but once people figured out they had no use, their popularity declined. There are still a few TACO enthusiasts that would pay a pretty penny for these, however. Ghalla was a multimillionaire after all. She wouldn't miss it.
Word travels fast in Anachronox. Aside from being sympathetic to my troubles with Detta, Ghalla is the best damn doctor in Anachronox and quite the humanitarian. I was almost sure I'd be waking up on one of her tables today like I had so many other days.
Nobody had followed me into Ghalla's so I was fairly certain that it was safe to continue onto Frank's.
However, the moment I left the clinic I was jumped by two members of the junkyard 20 gang, out for revenge for what I did to Ppaki. Although they didn't look as tough as ol' Ppaki, they certainly were no slouches.
After taking a solid blow to the gut, I vaporized one of the thugs with my last bindle bag and took a shot at the other.
He cracked me with his club. Compared to the training robot, the goon was a creampuff. Seeing that his blows weren't fazing me, he used some small explosives of his own. I managed to dive away to avoid the brunt of the explosion, but my trench coat was smoking.
One last shot and he was down for the count. My clothes were singed. My body was badly bruised. But I had won. I quickly popped one of the Heal Greases provided by Jack and instantly felt great again. The thugs seemed to have come from the junkyard area, so I went to investigate.
Since The District of South Anachronox is not liable for injury or death resulting from plate transitions, that sidetrack would have to wait.
This "Eddie Knows" graffiti was all over the bricks. I didn't see any "K'Conrad Khk knows" tags, I thought that maybe I was talking to the wrong bird.
I was getting near the Flophouse. On the way I bumped into another NoxGuard. Curious as to whether he was looking for Marina too, I approached him.
"You remind me of a guy in my precinct," He said. "He's different from the rest of the NoxGuards. He wears a leather jacket over his uniform and a pair of jeans. He's got his own set of rules, testing the limits of the law with his own brand of street justice."
I responded, "Yeah, us badasses aren't too hard to pick out. --"
Brandishing his club, he said, "And I hate him. So get away from me before I take it out on your face." He didn't have to tell me twice.
A strange civilian was mumbling something to himself. Before I could say a word, he turned to me, blurted out "Eddie knows," and scampered off into the shadows.
First the strange graffiti and now this. I got the feeling that I should meet this Eddie character.
I went down yet another elevator, this one for purely aesthetic purposes, to get to the level of the city where Frank's was.
As I got off the elevator, an old man approached me with an eager look in his eyes. He was asking me to sign a petition for a limited PAX membership. PAX is an interstellar security firm. Even from the little I've told you, I'm sure you can see that NoxGuards are thoroughly incompetent. They're bought off by Detta to boot.
I was mere steps away from The Flophouse, but I couldn't resist talking to every unusual character I encountered. This guy kept looking up and gagging. "What's the matter, pal?" I asked.
Wincing, he said, "Looking at that Bilifiga up there is giving me awful flashbacks. The reproductive process of their species requires both the male and the female to gestate half the egg... They conjoin their infant by lining up their rather complicated, uh, plumbing in one of the most disgusting processes in the galaxy. I should know, I was a Syrup Mopper at a Bilifigan hospital for three months. I couldn't hack it. I get sick just thinking about it."
Note to self: avoid Bifiligan porn.
Just around the corner, NoxGuards and Dettagoons were brutalizing a random bum off the street in perfect harmony. What a wonderful world we live in. As if one needed any more proof that Detta had bought off the NoxGuards. A few PAX guards would clean their clocks.
There was a scene in front of the MysTech tunnels. A scientist from Sunder wanted access to do research, but Detta had the tunnels locked down.
The researcher plead, "The scientific community MUST be given access to these tunnels. How can this Detta character just stake his claim on public property with a wave of his hand?"
"You just don't understand, do you?"
"Why don't you make me understand, officer?" He was begging for a beating.
The guard gripped his club. "I'd love to, as soon as this guy gets out of hearing range."
He turned to me and said, "Beat it, butt streak. I'm about to get my evening exercise."
I knew that the guy was going to get mauled the moment I left. Even though I told him so, he refused to leave and come with me. Before I left, I had to check out the behemoth they had guarding the tunnels.
"I cannot allow you past this door," he hissed.
He was a genuine Doorlord. I had only heard rumors about these things. Not something you want to mess with. Business must have been going pretty well for Detta to be able to afford something like this to guard the MysTech tunnels. I mean, the monsters inside were already killing all of the prospectors; why hire a billion loonie security force?
In fact, the Mephad'in Doorlords even had their own groupies. One of them was camped out by the tunnels, fawning over the guardian. In one single, overenthusiastic breath, he said, "I can't believe it. They've got a Mephad'in DoorLord guarding the entrance to the Mystech Tunnels over there. I never thought I'd ever see one, especially in a dump like The Bricks. Such a majestic creature, take a look. Thousands of years of natural selection have perfected a race of flawless guards. While they're still in the womb, they're taught to keep watch over their mother while she sleeps by listening through her stomach and warning her of danger by kicking. Their word for door literally translates into "protect." He is physically incapable of letting anyone through that door without sacrificing his own life in the process. Isn't that awesome? Makes you wonder what's in the tunnels. I mean, aside from MysTech. Should I go talk to him? Betcha Eddie would know how to get past him."
After a fairly long sidetrack, I had finally found my way to Frank's Flophouse.
Frank's attracts the scum of the galaxy. I would have paid them an activated bindle bag to do a disappearing act if I still had one.
I walked up to the desk and asked Frank about Deanamo.
"What room's Deanamo in?" I asked bluntly.
He didn't even put down his paper. "That's confidential. In fact, that's about 5 bucks worth of confidentiality."
"Shove off creep. I don't need your help," I said. Those five bucks would be better spent at Rowdy's.
"Hey, screw ya. I don't need your money."
I did need my money. The best part about sleazy hotels is that they don't bother to buy expensive locks. My unique lockpicking talents combined with there being only six rooms in the flophouse meant that I could just check every room for her.
The door of the downstairs room was unlocked! But there was no sign of Deanamo.
But there was another TACO. These things really had become so unpopular that people were leaving them in abandoned rooms.
While looking for other rooms to break into, I was flagged down by one of the guests. He had the pale skin and sunken eyes typical of a tetra goner. "Look around," he said, his eyes darting randomly around the room. "This was a mausoleum."
"Depending on how you look at it, it still is. Now if you'll excuse me, I--"
He grabbed my coat. "Hey don't run away from me. You should hear this if you're ever going to sleep here. Close your eyes and picture this place hundreds of years ago... stuffed from floor to ceiling with thousands of aliens dead from plague. If you have nightmares here tonight, you'll know why."
"Let go of my coat or it'll be your grave too," I said sternly.
He didn't believe me. "Last week, something woke me up in the middle of the night. I felt claustrophobic... like I was trapped within the stone walls. My only impulse was to break outta here... but I was too confused to move. Then the feeling went away as quickly as it came. I think I was having a psychic connection with one of the plague spirits." I unholstered my pistol. "Okay, let's stop talking about this," he said and sheepishly slinked away.
I checked room D. It had a simple lock that I picked without much difficulty, but there was nobody inside except a drunk painting his room in vomit.
The resident of Room E was standing outside. "I'm never gonna get any sleep," he complained. "My brother talks in his sleep. Like, ALL NIGHT. Weird things. I wouldn't mind as much if we didn't have a shipment of... uh, spices to deliver in Cordica by tomorrow." Drug runners. Anachronox's location in the middle of a sender spike combined with lax legal standards and law enforcement made it a hub for trafficking. It's how Detta got his start, afterall. Chances are, this guy was one of Detta's kids.
I looked inside the room. As advertised, the drug runner's brother was talking in his sleep again. "Zzzz...Eddie knows...he knows. Zzzz... Eddie knows Anachronox... knows Anachronox like the back of his... Mom that's butter. Zzzz Mom?"
I got out of there before it got any creepier, but I was impressed at how the whole city was buzzing with stories of Eddie. I knew that I'd definitely have to meet this guy.
I wasn't getting into room B. Odd that such a complicated lock was on this door while the others had nearly nonexistent security.
Room A was the last room to check
Inside Apartment A(video). / Backup
Gameplay Note: The lockpick minigame in action! See, it's every bit as simple as it sounded.
For a double amputee, Deanamo was pretty calm. I've seen plenty of things in this line of work. In fact, I've seen much, much worse, but I still get squeamish at the sight of blood. And missing limbs. At least she could go to Ghalla's for a transplant.
On the way out, I noticed a bracelet on the table which turned out to be Valesta's. I assured Deanamo that I would return the bracelet, although I still didn't know how I would break the news to Valesta.
No doubt incensed at how this Grumpos character had treated Deanamo, Fatima had already run a background check on SenderNet.
Instantly materializing in front of me, she said, "Hey, kiddo. I just ran a SenderNet search on this Grumpos character...His last name is Matavastros, and he was curator of the MysTech museum until about six months ago when he retired. Luckily for you, she was right. He lives just across the street in Building 5. Make sure to check their builing directory, his apartment isn't listed."
I found the well-labeled Building 5 just across from Frank's.
I snapped a shot of the building directory. "Matavastros, G. Apartment C19. That's our guy," I said to myself.
"No I haven't. Have you?" Is how I wanted to respond, but that path would only lead to beatdown city.
SenderNet was full of gossip and trash, but every now and then a decent story would slip through the cracks. Luckily Fatima could sort through the stories quickly in the lifecursor, so that I didn't have to hunt around for the celebrity sex tapes. The only story of note had to do with a new PAL model. Nothing will ever beat the 18s, though. People keep claiming "quirkyness" in the 18s, but if they said that to my bot's face they'd get their asses kicked.
C15....C17....and finally Apartment C19. With any luck there wouldn't be a double amputee bleeding on the bed in this one.
I knocked on the door, but there was no answer. I had walked all over the bricks, gotten clobbered by a training bot, and patiently sat through rants from random people off the street to get to this point, and I wasn't about to leave empty handed.
Inside Apartment C19(video). / Backup
In case you're keeping track, that's 3 times I've been beaten up by a stranger, not counting Mr. Training Bot.
End: I guess I'm ending here because it's a small cliffhanger ending. The beginning of the game moves pretty slowly. Hopefully in a few updates I'll finish up all the menial tasks here. Hope everyone's enjoying it.