Part 30: Bonus Feature B4: Abandon all HopeBonus Feature B4: Abandon all Hope
The first, and nearly last, thing Hope saw as she entered the next section of the tower was a bright light. This would not do, and so she caused Darkness.
Continuing up the tower she found a floor composed of the same cloud stuff as Byak-Ko's world, where violent winds pushed her to a chest with a sword that was of no use to her what-so-ever.
On the floors above she found a place where the seafood walked around on land, and complained of the weather. This took some of the anticipation from eating them, along with the fact that they would be dry and tough.
On the next level she found the cause: thoughtless humans had clogged a drain with their filth, and were steadily getting closer to drowning. Where the water went after that Hope did not know, but considering that their own foolishness had been the cause it was tempting to let the problem take care of itself. Before she could make that decision, however, Hope accidentally solved the problem by bumping the garbage away with her foot.
Inadvertently, Hope had created yet another paradise. Could she find a paradise of her very own?
The stairs wound upward while appearing straight, and Hope found herself in a forested world where people pretended to be three of the creatures she had already slain and spoke of others.
Since they weren't using them, Hope helped herself to the treasures within a nearby castle. Half of the treasure was consumable, which suited Hope just fine.
The dapper man in the suit was waiting, with more advice. Evidently the problem in this world would be the opposite of finding someone or something. And so, Hope stepped through the door...
Into a dead and blasted world. The wind blew ceaselessly through the ruins of dead buildings, whispering in Hope's ears like the voices she had heard for as long as she could remember. The dust swirled in complicated patterns and for Hope for Hope felt like home.
Hope climbed down the stairs of a nearby structure and found, to her surprise, a vast network of tunnels. She had realized from the buildings that humans had inhabited this world, but had not grasped the extent of their works. Had they been responsible for their own destruction?
Nearby a girl near Hope's age was in trouble, and so she stepped forward to put a stop to it. She might never get an answer to her question, after all, if she allowed the girl to be eaten.
The creatures in question had impressive jaws, but their cutting ability was insignificant compared to Hope's. Unfortunately...
In the brief interval of Hope's destructive rampage the girl in question had run away. The ghostly interest in her was perhaps the most positive sign that Hope could think of.
Hope followed the girl's trail through the dust and rubble, eventually emerging in sight of what she imaged must be the only standing city left in this world. What chance had spared it? Hope did not know, nor was she particularly interested in anything other than the people inside.
Said people were mostly interested in keeping Hope away from the local pub, and so there was only one place that she wanted to go.
The night started out a bit rough, but it ended with Hope telling her life story to the girl she had rescued and the girl's older brother. There might have been strong liquor and drinks with umbrellas in them involved.
When she woke up the next morning, Hope had a vague memory of her ghosts promising that they would go and retrieve some machine parts to disable Su-Zaku's force field. Luckily, Hope was precisely too sloshed to find the bike she'd borrowed before the morning and yet sober enough that she recalled that her first step was to find a library to locate the parts.
After waking up in a corner of the bar, Hope visited the local stores and prepared carefully for her journey. The goods were expensive, but somewhere along the way Hope had run out of things to spend money on. (120 STR, 195 AGL)
Riding through the city on her bike, which was her new favorite thing, Hope was set upon by the Vermillion Bird she had heard so much about. It was noisy and squawking, and her blade could barely scratch its flesh through the force field. Hope could perhaps have slain it then, but considered it too much work for some self-frying chicken.
Nearby Hope could see the library she had been searching for. Whatever his other flaws might be, Su-Zaku was evidently one who appreciated literature.
Hope, however, was not. There were too many books in here, and none of them seemed to be very helpful.
Eventually Hope found what she was looking for, although for a girl who had grown up in a world where streets had not been invented as such the concept of a block was deeply confusing. North and east, however, was not.
Hidden in the stacks Hope also saw a familiar tome that she knew many collectors would be interested in, and so decided that the lack of a librarian meant that questions of checking out books were essentially moot.
Hope roared into town on her motorcycle, driving it right into the empty houses she found and up to the treasure chests that were scattered within. The people living here had been very considerate to store their treasures so openly, and Hope was quite curious about the curved blade she found within.
Northward, Hope found another strange building standing on its own.
Inside, humans and strangely silent lizard men commingled in an open market. Hope had no idea what the lizard men might want to trade or why they were so comfortably wandering outside the walls, but she also had no real desire to find out. Instead, she retrieved the Board she needed and hightailed it back to the Last City.
So-Cho was waiting for her in the pub, with a new scheme that involved stealing something that Hope had never heard of. Even worse he wanted to accompany her, something that Hope could not accept.
Hope tried to pretend a need for sleep and sneak out, but So-Cho was wise to such tricks and was waiting for her outside. Hope's solitude had gained her many things, but a thorough understanding of human nature was not one of them.
Instead, Hope was forced into a speeding bike chase through the subway tunnels, leaping over gaps and drifting up stairs. She might have lost the battle, but Hope had certainly won the war.
Following So-Cho up the stairs Hope found her way blocked by a stubborn monster, in the floating eye shape she was so familiar with...
It was very much reminiscent of pudding.
Somehow Hope had passed So-Cho, and he caught up to her as she contemplated the barrier that was standing between her and the reactor.
His solution was drastic, and probably quite unnecessary since her many L-Swords could probably have trimmed the barrier down to size with minimum difficulty. The Headband she received with his last dramatic speech did little to soften her feelings.
Luckily for Hope her spirits had been paying closer attention than she had during the description of plutonium, as she would not have been able to pick it out of a lineup. Unluckily for her, none of them were paying attention to what was behind them.
The dawn may creep up on little cat feet, but War Machines should not be able to. Hope was not fond of surprises, and the machine had several exposed hydraulic and power lines that she vented her displeasure on with her new Catclaw.
The Machine had been built to engage normal humans, and not to deal with someone as swift and strong as Hope. Its design specifications exceeded, it soon collapsed in a heap.
The Last City had fallen, and the ghosts, who would know, confirmed that the people within were dead. Hope had a clue to the identify of the perpetrator, but no clue as to its whereabouts...
But one building stood above the ruins to the north, and this was the only place Hope had not yet visited. And so Hope came to the White Tower, which had assuredly seen better days.
Inside the building it was a maze of hidden passages and stairways that Hope followed with interest, taking careful stock of the rare weapons and tasty elixirs hidden within. To go up one had to go up, and to go down she had to climb, but eventually...
Eventually Hope emerged into the graveyard of the trains, where the passenger service that had once linked all the blocks of the enormous city lay dreaming, hoping that the time might come where it could move again.
Inside, Sayaka was backed into a corner with a suspicious person in armor standing next to her. One couldn't say he was actively menacing her, but he was certainly an impediment to conversation and Hope detested such things.
He also had friends, however, and so Hope was forced to use one of the weapons she had hoped to save as a curiosity for later days. The results were most satisfying, and on reflection Hope thought that such a thing might be even more of a conversation starter if one could say that it had only been used once.
When the light had faded and Hope could see again Sayaka was gone, but with the slightly open door staring at her the answer was fairly simple. Her ghosts, however, were more easily confused.
Atop the train Su-Zaku had for some reason taken Sayaka prisoner, and was under the mistaken impression that Hope would try to escape. Such a foolish bird, to not realize that the tables had turned and it was now the prey rather than the predator.
Without the troublesome force field in place Hope's blade bit deep, although she took great care with her strikes.
After all, it would be a shame to damage a prime cut of meat. After fighting machines and insects and slimes, our Hope was once again a hungry girl. Su-Zaku tasted of fire and light and chicken, and Hope was grateful for a truly unique dining experience.
There was enough to share, and Sayaka was very complimentary of Hope's cooking. Hope didn't have the heart to tell her that the meal had done most of the work on its own.
Afterward they took the time to retrieve So-Cho and give him a proper burial. Hope was not a psychiatrist, but she took Sayaka's reaction to mean that she was either deeply unbalanced or that So-Cho had in fact been a title rather than a name. If that was the case, Hope was a bit saddened to have never heard his actual name.
Hope rode the bike through the peaceful streets, and gathered her supplies to return to the tower. Four worlds in, and she had no idea if the tower even had an end. Should she stop and try to build her own paradise? Hope did not know precisely why she had begun to climb the tower, nor precisely what might impel her to stop.
The path to the next doorway was paved with spikes, but Hope barely noticed as she walked over them. The mystery of the tower called, and Hope could only think that she must be getting closer to solving it.
And yet, on the other side of the sealed door the tower had not changed. Grimly, Hope began to climb.
Starting up this stretch of the tower we've pretty much gone over the hump as far as instant death is concerned. Instead, our biggest worry is enemies like the members of the eye and slime family that can cause damage that ignores armor. A few of the more powerful physical enemies can also hurt us, so there's only so much fighting you want to do on the way up. For their bulk, healing items don't really go very far. We also need inventory space for any treasures we pick up, and some of them sell for thousands of gold. Revives and the various magic based sword are mainly valuable as selling fodder.
Entering the fourth world, Su-Zaku's force field blunted Hope's damage down to about 100 points or so. I probably could have killed him if I'd stuck with it, but as Chokes as mentioned the game doesn't acknowledge this achievement at all so it's just not worth it. Pushing ahead, once you've sold most of the useless crap from the tower money isn't really an object. I pushed agility and strength up again at this point, and even splurged on some HP600s. Money has ceased to be an object, and although they're far more expensive than just buying 20 HP200s they're also much more convenient.
The various bosses going up the reactor aren't very much of a challenge, especially in the case of the Evil Eye where Hope went first. You might have noticed that I finished the climb up to 600 HP somewhere in there, but didn't make any changes to stats. Machine is a bit more dangerous, but nothing that a couple of rounds of fighting won't fix. At 195 AGL we're stretching the tables to the point where most enemies have very little chance of actually hitting Hope.
The group of enemies I ran into rescuing Sayaka was an example of one of the dangerous groups I was talking about, since you can see that it involves jelly type and eye type enemies. Despite Hope's 600 HP that group actually killed me several times. The only real option was to use the Hyper. In comparison Su-Zaku was an absolute pushover, and I don't think he managed to damage Hope at all. We're about to enter the final stretch, so I boosted Hope up to 235 AGL and 150 STR before continuing into the tower as well as buying a good number of HP200s to give her some more life.