Part 19: The Least Interesting Mystery on Mars
The Least Interesting Mystery on Mars
Remember the phlogistonite cannisters? No? Well they used to be here. They're not now. Gee, isn't that convenient, they disappear when we suddenly actually need them.
"Oh dear, Steve! The phlogistonite must have been stolen!"
"I thought I mentioned this all the way back at Olympus. Of course it was stolen. Because now we needed it."
"I don't quite pretend to understand this, Madam, but... what?"
"It's very simple. If there's one thing I've learned in my travels, it's that people die or disappear just when you need them most, and their stuff is busted up in the process. In fact, I'm almost certain this will happen in my next two or three adventures."
"It's... probably best not to question her on this. Much as I hate to say it, she is the expert here. Perhaps we should return with the news and a clue to Mr. Roosevelt." Spector spends a moment in thought. "Most modern forensic techniques haven't been invented yet, but perhaps this metal band could provide some information nonetheless."
Before we go, I've run real low on ammo. So it's back to Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane (remember them?) with the rest of my oxium reserves. When all's said and done, I've got a handful of bullets and shells for everybody else, plus 50-100 oxium for everyone who actually needs it. You're so much better than Sherman, Chsheket.
By the way, their ammo is way overpriced. Forty-five oxium for ten elephant gun rounds? Screw you guys.
We'll park the barge here inside Olympus. So much for their gate guard. Weren't considering I'd reactivate the entire fucking planet, were you?
And then the time comes to loot Olympus for ammo and provisions. I could have done this ages ago. Why didn't I? Because Martian Dreams is, more than most Ultima games, about conserving your resources. There's only a couple safe places to stash stuff and no quick way back to any place you'd want to use as a storehouse. In general, you also need to carry a lot of tools and other heavy items (note I've put Steve on two-handed sledgehammer duty; this will be her testimony).
Ammo conservation wouldn't be a big deal if my guys didn't constantly turn on combat mode the second somebody gets nicked and unload 8 shells into a cactus. Even putting Steve and Chsheket on melee duty doesn't help too much. For now, Nellie is still dual-wielding revolvers, Spector is using the Belgian Combine in shotgun mode, and Dibbs is using a rifle.
If you're curious, Chsheket is dual-wielding sabers. But after some trial runs with the sledgehammer on Steve, I'm starting to believe that two-handed melee is just as awesome in Martian Dreams as it is in Ultima VI. Sadly, unlike U6, there's no damage stats given for any of these weapons.
We'll hit up Teddy's private stash, then consult with him on this little Mars crime.
Teddy looks up from his work and smiles broadly at you. "Oh, I say, hello! Quite good to see you again. Quite."
"Mr. Roosevelt, we think we may have discovered a clue as to who stole the phlogistonite cannisters from the space capsule."
He walks up animatedly and begins to look through your possessions. After a moment, he pulls a metal band from your things and takes it to his work area.
"I know that was the clue, but next time could you maybe... ask?"
"What the fuck does that mean? Is that a yes? Is that even a word?"
"Would you have a microscope with you? I must use it to get a good match on the prints."
"Why in the world would we have a-"
"But Nellie, we do have a microscope. I gave it to Warren when we
"I don't remember that at all!"
"Yeah well that's why you're not the Avatar and I am."
He takes the metal band and microscope and begins to examine the band closely. He then looks at a fingerprint sample under the microscope and whistles to himself in triumph. "There is no doubt that the Rasputin prints collected near the capsule fuse Rasputin set off and the prints on the band you retrieved are identical. As I recall, this band was used to bind the barrels that held our supply of phlogistonite together. It is clear that Rasputin has stolen our propellant!" Turning to you, he says, "I would ask that you go and confront that so-called 'holy' man and try to retrieve the propellant."
"I was going to do that anyway. Come on, we're dealing with Rasputin here. If he's not evil, I'd say we have bigger problems."
"Yes, quite. It is vital to our return to Earth. Personally, I will stay behind to insure that Segal does not get involved."
"No. The robot is fine, but I'm drawing a line here."
"See if I have any more Worlds of Ultima adventures with you, jerkface."
"By the way, I notice that you have partially solved the problem of finding bodies for the Martians."
"It doesn't bother you in any way that I'm walking around with a Martian robot?"
"Not really. But I don't think that the average resident of Earth would be able to accept them in that state." He examines Chsheket consideringly for a moment.
"Hmmm. Well, I don't really have any solution for THIS problem, but I will suggest that you get the help of a professional in the matter of disguise. I would speak with Miss Bernhardt if I were you. Best wishes, friend. Let me know how this turns out, will you?"
"Is that a yes?"
"You tell me."
So we're off to see Sarah Bernhardt, the actress. Of course, at first she seemed useless, being the only person in the expedition with no clear survival or scientific skills. But there is one thing an actress knows, and that's makeup!
Sarah turns at the sound of your voice, then stifles a gasp of surprise as she sees the mechanical being in your party. "Mon Dieu! Il est incroyable!" Gathering her composure, she points to the metal woman and gasps, "What is that!?"
The metal woman intones, "Please do not be alarmed. My companion has brought me to you to find a solution for a particular problem. Apparently you are skilled in cosmetic adjustments."
Nodding uncertainly, Sarah looks to you for an explanation.
"Can you make this robot hot?"
"What's wrong with the way she is now?"
"I don't really have time to go through a list, Dibbs."
She looks from you to the metal woman, and she seems at a loss as to what must be done. "I can use rouge berries to make a pigment that will look the color of human flesh, but it will not make the body itself look human. Perhaps there is a way to cover the metal with some material that could hold the pigment?"
Chsheket interrupts, "You know, the mechanical men at the cisterns are coated in a water-repellent substance that looks as if it has the consistency of flesh. I am sure that Madame Bernhardt could mix color in with it that would make it appear like worm-skin. If we find such a substance, Madame Bernhardt, woudl you prepare a color to blend with the coating to make the metal body appear human?"
"But of course! I will only be too happy to assist, Mademoiselle. You should retrieve the rouge berries as soon as you can."
"Wait a second, retrieve?"
"Oui. Do you not remember? The berries are located in Argyre."
"How convenient that this is exactly where we're going next."
"Isn't it just?"