Part 31: Episode 30: Full Circle
Episode 30: Full Circle
Santa had charged us with seeking out Roweidekhalicon on Anachronox, but I decided that I should spread the news to the rest of the team waiting on Sender Station. I didn't want them worried that we had, you know, died on the planet of death. So we began to head back to the shuttle from the throne room.
Back in the crevice, we found the body of a Dark Servant away from the main battlefield. Next to the body, of all things, was a Stargent Enerstrike staff. It was strange that the Dark Servants, with their incredible technology and supposedly godlike powers, were carrying staves around. Unlike the superstitions Limbusonians who believed that the Dark Servant equipment was inherently evil, I had no qualms using it, or at least giving it to Grumpos to use.
It seemed that not all of the Servants had been killed in the battle. A small group was lying in wait for us at the shuttle.
Using the Vigil shieldcell, I unleashed an enormous ice blast that annihilated the entire force. It would have been nice if the armorer had given us this thing BEFORE the giant battle. After all, he was willing to give away his prized underplate.
The Dark Servant shuttle had landed in the same clearing that we had. Unfortunately, we couldn't get inside to scope it out.
We hopped in the shuttle and took a spike back to Sender Station. Rukh was pacing back and forth in front of our shuttle's gate. When he saw us come out, his eyes lit up. "There you are," he said, "Man, you're not gonna believe this. PAX was desperate enough to foot the bill for an unflawed Tetra crystal. Looks like I can spring a trap on my killer. The gig's going down soon, but…Well I guess I'm having second thoughts about it. Remember all those scorch marks in the Routubes? Well, you know what a stiff boy I am. My mind is my muscle. I guess what I'm saying is… I could use some backup. I don't wanna tip my hand and stick out with a bunch of undercover PAX clowns, so I thought of you. You're a sure-shot, and you don't look outta place at the Flophouse. No offense. If you're up to it, meet me at Room 6 at Frank's Flophouse. We can decide the best place to fork the deal and go over everything. Hope to see you there, man."
I promised to meet him there, but told him to give me some time. With everything that was going on, finding the echo gate and Roweidekhalicon on Anachronox was going to take precedence.
"Oh yeah…," he said as he reached into his trench coat pockets, "how could I forget the latest and greatest from the PAX armory? I'll be happy to hand off this sweet toy if you can back me up at this meet. PAX gave it to me for supplemental protection, but I'm sure you'll find more use for it than me. You seem to be living life pretty dangerously these days."
He tossed me a FreezySlicer Harmonic MysTech. No, it couldn't touch the TriVice I was currently using, but it was still a nice gesture. I was definitely going to have his back on this one.
All of the usuals were still hanging around Sender Station, but this floater hadn't been here before. He was standing in front of the gate to Anachronox. I guess I either look or smell like someone from Anachronox because the floater started to talk to me. "Have you heard what has happened on Anachronox?" he asked. "There has been a PAX-condoned coup of the civilian government. Some local leader called 'Detta' installed himself as ruler of the entire city-planet. My understanding is that he's a great supporter of floater rights. What a refreshing voice in such a bigoted galaxy. I might transplant my family to Anachronox if this Detta can clean up the crime problem."
Well it's a good thing we didn't rush off to Anachronox. Detta would probably have guards on every street corner looking out for me. He doesn't like being stood up for dinner. We'd definitely need to make sure that we were fully equipped before setting foot back on Anachronox.
We rushed back to the lounge to spread the news. I told them about the Dark Servants, the echo gate, and everything. Grumpos didn't really seem to be taking me seriously. He said, "Vigil? Eye of Suffering? Dark Servants? Normally I'd tell you you're mad as a cut snake. But it's hard to argue when your current version of reality contains a planet inspecting the wine list over there."
He also was in no mood to go back to Anachronox with me. I don't think that he realized that he was in danger of not even having a universe to sell his book to.
If Detta was in control of Anachronox then the Resistance…I ran back to the corner to see if Salsa was still around. He was still in his corner, but was looking totally dejected. He shook his head and said, "It's over, Sly. The Resistance is over.. The raid started out just peaches. Detta's regulars were off on Sender Station trying to patch things up with the Gorians, leaving the field pretty clean. And then we hit OneGate. Thanks to your recon work, we were prepared for the PAX troops and sustained acceptable losses as we approached Detta's gates. Detta's gate was the clincher. There was a legion of souped-up NoxGuards holding down the fort. I guess that mitotic accelerator you pinched was just one part of Detta's investment in an effort to clone an elite personal army of NoxGuards..Although their numbers were great, we still had a fighting chance with all that MysTech we nabbed from the museum. Nevertheless, we failed. But the Resistance could still recover…in time. I barely made it out alive, man. If it wasn't for this slag of MysTech, I wouldn't have survived. Maybe you can find a use for it if you ever decide to confront Detta."
The MysTech had the Baneslaught effect. If Grumpos ever decided to get off his ass and do something, then maybe it would be helpful. I wanted to take Detta down more than any Resistance member, but it would have to wait until after the whole saving this universe and every future universe thing. If I hadn't helped the Resistance members, would they still be alive today? They never would have attempted to raid otherwise.
Rho and Sera both had business to attend to on Limbus. Rho needed to check out that strange book in the throne room, and that one Limbusonian had specifically asked me to bring Sera to see him.
Before leaving, I traded my moss for a rusty old medal. The mugmugs had scammed of me of my precious moss for the last time.
We made the voyage to Limbus without difficulty. When we arrived inside Sesostris, Dr. Bowman immediately noticed the defunct enemy probe on the ground. She claimed to have seen the markings before although she couldn't remember where.
The guy who wanted to see Sera was waiting patiently for her creepily. "Your friend… she is fierce and daring. The glint of her knives is beautiful in the firelight," he told me as we got near. He turned and said to Sera, "You. Step closer. You have courage and determination. But you must temper your will with resolve… discipline your cast of mind with self-control. Show purpose, be resolute, and steel yourself against distractions. Let there be deep reflection." He sat on the ground and assumed some sort of zen position. Sera turned back to us, shrugged, and sat down on the ground with him. I guess she had nothing better to do. I left her with the creepy alien while I went with Rho to show her the book.
Rho was visibly shocked to see the book. "What's this? The Limbusonian Archentome?" she said while flipping furiously through the pages. "There are scientific legends of this - of its theories on black holes and the warping of space. From the study of the anomaly above their planet, I suspect." She sat down and zoned out, carefully studying each page. With the girls both preoccupied and no bar in sight, it was time to play the waiting game. Honestly, I didn't even feel like drinking anymore.
Eventually I got bored of watching Rho read the book and went back to check on Sera. The guy was still meditating with complete seriousness. Sera had long since grown bored of it. She had taken the opportunity to brush up on her loonie throwing skills. From the looks of it, she had become quite successful, being able to hit guards on the other side of the room straight on the helmet. Suddenly the guy opened his eyes while Sera quickly snapped back into her meditation pose. He said, "Let our meditation on strength of will come to an end now. I have only the highest hopes that you benefitted from this reflection."
The meditation was a wash, but Sera's loonie throwing technique had definitely improved. The two of us went back to check on Dr. Bowman. She had finished studying the tome and was working on plans for what she called a "Pocket Singularity". Finished with our business on Limbus, we got on the shuttle and went back to the lounge. Being the super genius that she is, she had the device finished and ready for combat before the shuttle got back to Sender Station.
Back in the Lounge of Commerce, everyone except Grumpos was eager to help me find my contact in the bricks, but they were also feeling a bit underequipped for the battle. If it was true that Detta was in control of Anachronox, we might have to fight our way out. Instead of risking going in unprepared, we took a quick stop on Hephaestus for more gear. At the very least, Paco had a stone to irradiate and perhaps the others could find something to do, too.
Rho didn't waste any time finding something to amuse herself with.
Rho ran off to find Brother Teru's information while the rest of us continued on toward the tower.
Meanwhile, PAL begged to be allowed to play in MoonBurger again. I don't know how he could think about playing at a time like this, but I couldn't say no. He pulled up a few useful items last time.
Due to an obnoxious bug, PAL refuses to go back into the ballpit. So I'll probably end up just cheating to get his best weapon. I know I know…who would have ever thought Anachronox would be buggy.
Paco and I went deep into the MysFac to get his Crimson stone irradiated. Irradiatus kindly "sunk the Crimson Stone into the ire of awareness" and gave the stone back to Paco. The Crimson Stone awakened rage that would permit Paco to perform Proxima Punch, the most potent punch he packed.
Back in the main area of the Entertainment District, we regrouped. For getting the information from the aforementioned monks, she was given the Atomic Debinder, a weapon of awesome destructive power. When she got bored of waiting for us, she took a look at Ed's House of Crap and found a Battlebot TaserDrain upgrade for PAL. The taserdrain upgrade allowed PAL to siphon NRG from enemies. Combined with his NRG transfer ability, this was very effective. In addition to a bunch of worthless trash, PAL had also managed to find a Cordicorps Saneslayer. I guess the ballpit was favored by other bots too.
Just about everyone felt suitably equipped to take on whatever was waiting for us on Anachronox. I took Dr. Bowman and Paco with me and left the rest on Sender Station in case we got into trouble.
All was not well in the Bricks. Usually reserved to announce plate transitions, the intercom instead said, "Attention, South Anachronox is currently under martial law, please stay indoors until further notification." Aside from the intercom, the number of NoxGuards patrolling the street had at least tripled. Each one threatened to bash our faces in for violating curfew. I wished they'd take a swing at me.
The only other creature out on the streets was this floater. He sneered at us and said, "Do not befoul me with your presence. I will speak only with the student of the School of Order… the oldest among you." I wondered if this school of order was connected with the forces of order in the next universe. It was pretty coincidental that Grumpos, student of the school or order, would be obsessed with MysTech, the items that Order sent back to help us fight against Chaos. I couldn't help but wonder if he knew more than he was letting on.
Oh damn. I worried about how Rukh was doing with martial law being declared. I was in the neighborhood so I hurried over.
Although most buildings had been somewhat damaged by NoxGuard raids, the Flophouse seemed normal. Or maybe it was so run down that nobody could tell the difference. It didn't really matter. All that mattered was that the building was secure. The Democratan ambassador, naturally, had been too stupid to flee the planet when martial law was declared. Oblivious to the chaos around him, he said to us, "A delegation of Ambrali from Cordica presented me with this slag of MysTech as a gift. Please take it from me before it blows my face off." The slag was WinkyTornado Harmonic, a fairly powerful wind attack. We urged the ambassador to come with us and return to his home planet, but he declined.
Apartment B had eluded me for far too long. With a lock so strong, I figured there must be something good stashed away in there. With Rukh's enhanced pick, the lock stood no chance.
Instead of a valuable treasure, I found a depressed, boozed up, veteran. By some incredible coincidence, he was a veteran of the same Verdun War that I had a medallion from. By an even more improbable coincidence he was the original owner of the medallion. "You… you found my war medallion?" he asked. "But I threw it away months ago. Where…? Mine is a sad story. I was career military. I'd just made colonel when they sent us to Verdun VII. The planet's atmosphere prevented us from using advanced machinery. We were reduced to trench warfare. It was a bloodbath. I was losing my best men by the minute… all for a patch of land the size of a zongba field. We were ordered on a suicide charge. We were in no condition. No condition at all… I threw away my war medallion… but I could never give away my gun. Please. Take my weapon. I should have thrown it away instead of the medal. Maybe now I will know peace. Go now."
The biggest coincidence of all was that a planet with the same name as an ancient battle would have a war fought on it in much the same style as the first war, bloody trench warfare. The gun was the awesome and manly Stargent Decimator. If Dirty Harry were alive today, this is what he would carry. I thought that day was my lucky day.
Oh how wrong I was…
Rukh's body was sprawled out on the ground. There were no visible marks anywhere on him. It was as if his life force had been drained, just like the corpse in the routubes. This was definitely the work of the tetra killer that he had been tracking, but how did he even know that Rukh had the piece? I still blame myself for his death. If I had gotten there more quickly, hadn't spent so much time supplying on Hepheastus, then maybe he'd still be alive. Rest in peace, my friend.
Ever the good detective, Rukh had managed to take a picture moments before his death. Rho looked troubled. "Wait a minute," she said, "I bumped into him on my way to the shuttle when we were fleeing Sunder." We had just learned that the Dark Servants were responsible for --Brother Morpheus's theories about mass quantities of tetra being able to open wormholes came back to me. How could I have been so dumb? It all seemed to obvious now. The Dark Servants had been hoarding unflawed tetra to open a portal to get their masters out of our universe. Whether this was related to the echo gate or part of a contingency plan was still unknown.
There was no more time for dawdling.
As we ran for our destination, we were pulled over by a NoxGuard. Luckily for us, Detta had only given them a name and not a picture.
And here we were, back at Rowdy's where this whole thing began.
We tried to go in, but warrior-poet Travis Kelli stopped us at the gate. He said, "Hey, Boots. Rowdy sent everyone home. I'm supposed to turn everyone away at the door. Except you. You can go in and see him, but your friends will have to stay with me."
Hey Rowdy, long time no see. (video) / Backup
End: Up next it's the last of the item collection and a quick (quick because I'll edit out the few million fights along the way) excursion to the MysTech tunnels.