Part 33: Chapter 28
They made their way up their...fifth? Sixth? Lucas had lost count, but they were riding another elevator going up, towards the one-hundredth floor. The arrow on the dial above the door had pointed towards the seventy-seventh floor before they had embarked yet again, so hopefully, they were getting close. The little arrow made its way up the dial towards the one-hundredth marker painfully slowly now, each floor taking an eternity to pass compared to when they first arrived.
Once the arrow got to the ninety-eighth marker, the familiar chime came back on through the elevator's speakers, and the same woman came on to warmly say "next stop, one-hundredth floor" to them. The floors they had visited had no particular theme to them and were seemingly randomized; they had no idea what to expect on the next floor.
Wherever they were, the floor looked...almost unfinished. The walls were made of cold still and the floor of dull, gray concrete. Whoever was working on the building didn't have an opportunity to put down any real flooring or put up any walls, and as a result, the place looked only half-finished.
The next room was holding a number of mechanical instruments and construction tools, from large bags of cement and enormous logs of timber, to power tools and electric generators, and a pair of robots that were probably used to aid in the building of the site.
He didn't really know what a robotic snake could do to help in building something, but if it was anything like the rope snake, then it probably had its uses.
They were probably in a storage section of the floor, explaining all the elements and devices used for building just lying around the place. More robots and mixes of cement were placed in the room, sometimes lumped onto grills covering unfinished sections of flooring. Pails of water were sitting next to small boxes holding wet, mixed cement with shovels still sticking out of them. Wherever the workers building the tower were, they were probably here recently.
The next room over showed him a rather sickly sight: there was no floor beneath them.
Wires and steel rods poked out from beneath the finished sections of floor, waiting to be filled in and connected. Beneath the floor they were standing on, it was just open sky: a series of girders separated the floor they were on with the seventy-seventh floor below them, and between them was the elevator shaft they had travelled up, and a second, larger shaft on the other side for another, unseen elevator. But other than that, there was an entire piece of the Empire Porky Building missing.
Whatever practical purpose this thing had for construction was over his head. Or even any practical purpose at all.
The next room over held the construction workers. Lucas was surprised to see them; he had guessed that Porky just liked the way the building was and decided to halt construction on a whim, but apparently, the building was really still being worked on.
The man seemed awfully happy with his job, up in the sky, secured to nothing, walking on a piece of flooring that could collapse underneath him at any moment. "It takes a lot of guts to be where he are - even if you're actually interfering with our work - so I can respect that. You've got more gall in you than you look, kids."
Lucas wasn't too sure how to respond to such praise. Was it even praise? "Um, thanks," he said, looking around the unfinished room. It had been divided into two pieces, with two workers on their side and one on the other. But no clear way to get across. "We've been, um, summoned by Master Porky. Is there any way for us to get across safely?"
The construction worker looked to the other half of the room. "Oh, sure, it's easy. You see that guy standing on that platform over there, staring into space?" Lucas followed the man's finger, to another construction worker that was apparently just standing there and doing nothing.
"His name is Rob. Hey, Rob!" he yelled, and suddenly the other man snapped out of it, turning to face his boss. "These kids need to get across!"
Rob looked to the four indifferently, shrugging his shoulders. "So?"
"They've been summoned by the great Master Porky!"
Like flipping a switch, Rob's expression brightened right up, and suddenly he was willing to cooperate. "Well, why didn't you say so?!" he answered, and, amazingly, Rob simply fell forward, his hands outstretched for the opposite platform. Lucas's heart nearly stopped when he watched the man fall into the crevasse and potentially down almost one-hundred storeys, but, with practiced precision, Rob reached forward and gripped onto the platform, securing himself and bridging the gap with his body.
"Don't worry about him," said the foreman. "Anything for our great Master Porky's guests! If you ever need any of us to do the same again, just mention our wonderful leader's name, and they won't hesitate."
He was deeply concerned about this. The man had simply fallen forward, bridging the gap between the two halves of the room with his own body. And they were just supposed to walk across him? Kumatora was normally very outgoing and courageous, and even she was having her reservations about it.
"If you're worried about our pal Rob," the foreman continued, seeing their hesitation, "don't be. We do this all the time when we have a gap we need to cross ourselves."
"And you don't just, I don't know, use a plank of wood or something?" Lucas asked quickly, thinking it was some kind of joke.
"No, actually. As per our great Master Porky's instructions, we have precisely the correct amount of materials to build his masterpiece tower with, and we can't afford to use anything for anything that's not construction." Lucas could hardly believe his ears. "Our great Master Porky sees this as a test for our devotion to him; if we really adored him as much as we do, then we will want for nothing more. And we do not!"
What kind of control did Porky have on these poor people, to willingly put up with his conditions? There was no other path forward, unfortunately, and Rob was already in place, so...
Although they were wracked with guilt over having to walk over a man like that, the other construction workers were all smiles. If it was for their great Master Porky, they would do it willingly.
Just beyond, in the next room was...
...he would rather not know what that was.
Right away, they came across another gap in the floor, splitting the room into two halves. Likewise, there was another man standing right on the edge, although this time he appeared to be doing something, working an electric tool to drill into a piece of lumber just below. He wasn't going to like to have to ask the man to do what he was about to ask, so he tried to lead into it. "Excuse me," he said, just loud enough to get over the whirring of the drill and get his attention. "Is this the one-hundredth floor?"
"No, it's not. The one-hundredth floor is reserved for our great and wonderful Master Porky, and only he and whoever he deems is worth his time may visit it." The man took off his hardhat and placed it against his chest, looking off into the sky between the huge gaps of wood holding up the building. "I hope to visit it myself one day."
"Well, see," he stuttered, trying to drum up the courage to ask the man to, essentially, do what they had just asked Rob to do. "We sort of...I mean, we kind of need to, um, get across, you know, and, well, we sort of, um..."
"We've been summoned by Por - I mean, our great Master Porky, and we need to get across right away," Duster interrupted, spitting it out for Lucas. The foreman's eyes absolutely lit up at the news.
"You mean it?" he asked breathlessly, looking over the three people and their dog in front of him. "Master Porky? He's asked you to meet him in his personal room?"
"That's right, and we need to get across here."
"Say no more!
Go right ahead! You can't keep our great Master Porky waiting!"
Their cross over the gap was just as uneasy as the other: no real stable footing; no handrails; and on top of a man that is so enamoured with Porky that he'd be willing to risk his own life just for Porky's guests.
The next room over was just the same as the other two, with their way forward blocked by a simple gap between two solid floors. But unlike the other two, there was no man standing over it.
In fact, there was nobody in the area at all. "Hello?" Lucas called out. His voice bounced off what completed steel walls there were, and most of it simply disappeared into the sky surrounding the building in all directions, but he still got a response.
"Up here!" a man yelled, on top of a platform high above them. Lucas couldn't see over its edge, but there were some ladders going straight up there for him to take.
On the top of the raised platform was a large, yellow crane with a massive black wrecking ball hanging on the end of its arm. It was humming with life, ready to operate with the push of a button, but nobody was in it. There was a man there as well, standing on one end of a teeter-totter placed directly below the wrecking ball.
"Uh," Lucas grunted, looking at the man, standing unmoving under the weighty ball. "What...what are you doing?"
"I see." He was an amateur, and he didn't really understand how complicated construction work could be, but still, this didn't quite...look correct, for construction work. "We, uh, need to get across," he said, gesturing to the platform below, across the gap. The man on the teeter-totter looked indifferent, however.
"It's for our great Master Porky," Duster added, and suddenly, the man's expression lightened up. "We've been invited to the one-hundredth floor." He felt a little dirty, describing Porky as his 'great master', but he knew it would play up to the worker's interests.
"Why didn't you say so?" he asked, then pointed to the crane. "We can't waste any time! Go to that crane there, and pull a lever with a red ball on its end."
"This one?" Lucas called, gripping onto the lever. "Is it safe?"
"It's totally safe! But there's no time to lose! Our great Master Porky has summoned you! Just pull the lever!"
On the man's insistence, Lucas pulled it straight done, unsure of what exactly was going to happen.
Oh. Well, that was one way to bridge the gap. "You must hurry!" the man yelled excitedly. "Don't worry about me! You must get to our great Master Porky immediately!"
The fact that none of them even asked for proof that Porky had called for them was really telling about the control he had over the workers. Just uttering his name got Lucas and his friends practically the royal treatment, as the workers used themselves as bridges to get them to their leader as quickly as they could. It made Lucas feel a little queasy; could anyone succumb to whatever Porky was using to poison their minds?
The path continued forward on a single thin steel beam, reinforced by logs of timber. It was wide enough to walk on easily, but with no handrails and the too-obvious repercussions of falling, they slowed their pace down nervously. The way the floor of the building had been only half-constructed, if even that, made it into something of a perilous maze to navigate.
Fortunately, they didn't have to put up with it for very long, and they didn't need to risk any more witless human lives for bridges: just beyond the thin catwalk of steel beams thousands of feet in the air, was a familiar pair of steel doors, closed tightly with a single glass button on their frame, a black arrow pointing upwards painted across its surface. They didn't rush towards it, though, knowing that the slightest misstep would be unfavourable.
Like clockwork, just as they approached the steel doors, the familiar four-tone chime of the PA system rang through the air, followed by Porky's high-pitched, scratchy voice through its speakers. "Attention, workers," he said seriously, like he had some bad news or something.
Idiots! Idiots! Idiots!" Porky yelled, followed by the sound of something being thrown about in whatever room he was in. He tossed items and he banged on walls, judging from the thumping from the speakers. He was pretty mad, apparently. "You idiots! I'm talking about you guys! I've warmly extended a gracious invitation to visit me in my most prized of rooms in my most exclusive of floors, and you just screw around like a bunch of troublemakers! Is this the thanks I get?!"
Kumatora giggled a little, hearing Porky throw such a hissy fit. Hearing him get so fed up was reassuring for her. Porky took a few loud, deep breaths to calm himself, and then calmly resumed speaking into his microphone.
You're really starting to irritate me!" he complained. "You're making my dentures itch like crazy! Get on the next elevator and stop making me wait! Just press the big button that says one-hundred, it's not that hard!" And with a click, Porky shut off the PA, leaving them alone on their way up the tower again.
"He's awfully impatient for us to beat him up," Kumatora said snidely as Lucas pressed the button to summon the elevator. In a moment it was there, and in another he had pressed the button at the very top of the rows of glass buttons, marked with a big black '100', and in yet another, they were off once again. The arrow on the dial above the door, before they departed, was craned way to the other side, pointed at the number eighty-five.
While the room of the elevator was very claustrophobic compared to the wide-open space of the previous floor, Lucas was relieved enough to be away from the constant threat of a long drop - even though from then on, he knew, that the tower wasn't technically structurally sound, especially with all the weight on the exposed wood, but for him, out of sight was out of mind. It was enough to cure him of his earlier queasiness.
And, by extension of his PSI that he used reflexively, and thanks to the new trick in general, everyone else in the elevator. A delightfully fresh sensation swept through the cramped space, curing them of their tension somewhat.
The arrow on the dial barely moved at all; there were only fifteen floors left to climb (or so they were led to believe), and the elevator was moving just as quickly as all the others, so he didn't really know what to think of it. Was it all part of Porky's plan, just to mess with their heads? Just as they began to grow impatient with their wait, the four chimes sounded in the elevator, and the same woman came on to say "next stop, one-hundredth floor". They didn't believe her, but they hoped, at least, that they were getting close.
The elevator finally came to a stop, and the large steel doors opened to reveal another small room, equipped with one of those machines that instantly revitalized them. Like the previous floor, there was no carpeting or wallpaper or anything; just there was no concrete or stone or wood anywhere. Just plate steel.
After a quick stop in the device, they continued on, pressing into the next room of the floor, revealing to them a massive room filled to the absolutely brim with machines and gadgets and the like.
The thousands of devices, all doing things Lucas could see but barely comprehend, filled the ambience with beeps and whirrs and chirps as they all went about their functions and calculations. There were chords running across the floor, kept straight by bits of steel guiding them; there were pink and green vials filled with a fluid he didn't recognize, all pumping and working to some unseen goal; there were lights flashing and beeping as they displayed the results of their calculations; there were boilers and strange discs and things he could barely even describe, all working on something. And there wasn't a single person to look after it all.
There were, of course, more chimeras to check the machines instead. Lucas remembered seeing something like the lion in front of him, way back (although only a day or two) ago in the Chimera Lab. He had seen it before it was totally transformed, and he knew how aggressive and ferocious it could get. Now that its transformation had been complete, its aggressiveness had increased exponentially.
The path had split in two shortly after the mechanical lion, and there were no signs, or maps, or any indication at all of which direction they should take. The path from the elevator pointed straight ahead, into the east room, so they decided to try that one first.
The entire floor seemed composed of simply nothing but more and more machinery, all clicking away at some unknown project, while the liquid in the pink and green vials bubbled and boiled occasionally.
The next room introduced them to the first person on the floor, watching over everything to make sure there were no fatal meltdowns or anything. It was accompanied by a small robot, with a bulbous head and four long, flexible pipes sticking out of various ports in its body.
They would rather have found a scientist or something, but judging from the colour of the Pigmask's uniform, it was of rather high rank, so taking them out could only serve to help their own cause.
The following fork split into paths going north and south. They could see from there that the south direction was a dead-end, but it contained some gift-boxes neatly wrapped and placed delicately on the far platform for someone to take.
They were heavily guarded, though.
He, Kumatora and Boney were still full from the concessions at the DCMC concert, but Duster hadn't had a bite to eat since then, so he was happy for whoever was strange enough to gift-wrap a burger, of all things, and place it in such a conspicuous area.
Heading north from the last fork, they found that the maze of machines and walkways of the floor eventually ended without their favour, in a dead-end looking over yet more doodads and gadgets. A small platform overlooking a third pit of endless machinery, guarded by handrails, another mechanical lion, and some kind of device that looked as though it was meant to transport and pump a liquid guarded another gift-box before ending the eastern route all-together.
The liquid-carrying robot was to be handled with care.
The least they could do before being forced to retrace their steps was take a look inside the box that some generous soul had left behind for them, whether or not it was meant for them.
Inside was a simple bone, exactly like the ones he used to give Boney back at their house, although it was made of steel. It was evenly weighted and perfectly smooth. He didn't really have much interest in it, but Boney took a liking to it right away.
The pathway north was protected by more guarding robots and more of those machines with four pipes sticking out of them. Between all the machinery just below them and the way the pathways were all so dull and uniform, it was easy to confuse one path for another, and Lucas had to look back to make sure they weren't going in circles.
Learning from their earlier mistake, they decided to take the first turn in the next fork in the twisting pathways, hoping it would take them farther into the building instead of to another dead-end.
Whatever the area was used for, it was filled up with Pigmasks, all wearing the white uniform, and lots of robots of all different kinds of purposes, as far as he knew.
From where they were standing, they could see a woman standing behind a very small and narrow desk, positioned just next to an open door, on top of a platform in the far corner. She was dressed in a shimmering silver gown, but all the same, it was reassuring to see someone on the floor that wasn't wearing a pig's mask.
Lucas nearly sighed in relief - the Pigmasks went down easy enough, but between the endless hoards of them backed by armies of robots and chimeras, they were beginning to become a handful for his tired mind and body, and he was sure the others agreed. But the name was oddly specific, and he doubted the idea of a hot spring being in such a place to begin with. "It's a spring for nice people?" he asked uneasily.
"Well, yes and no," the woman replied with a giggle. "Taking a dip in our free and luxurious hot spring will turn you into a nice person,
Using formulas discovered and patented by Porky's brilliant research team, using this hot spring until you're red in the face will make you feel happy and revitalized as a 'nice person'." She was smiling widely as she spoke - creepily widely, almost as if her cheeks were being pulled back, showing rows of her teeth. "Unlike other hot springs, all you have to do is step into a green-coloured capsule, which makes it simple and convenient. Take it from me!"
Stepping into a pool isn't simple and convenient? he thought to himself. The woman sounded convinced with herself, but from the way her eyes were glazed over and how her smile didn't wane at all, she practically looked dead on the inside. He was almost afraid of stepping into the room, but he knew that there was no turning back now. Backed by his friends, they took a step into the room, not knowing what to find.
Rows and rows of people, floating lifelessly in glowing green tubes of the same liquid being processed in the other rooms, framed the hallway. They were all fully-dressed, and their eyes were wide open, although they naturally couldn't breathe, so far as he knew. Although the colour was skewed a little through the green of the tube and the liquid, every last one of them had red faces, and they were all making the same smiling face as the woman outside.
Wide eyes with grins that stretched from ear to ear, with all their teeth showing through their open lips. Sometimes one would make a twitch of the finger; another would blink; one of them gave a small lurch in their tube. They were still alive, and they were feeling every change the chemical was doing to them, slowly. Some of them weren't even human!
He heard Kumatora give a quiet gasp, looking at all the people and all the animals locked up in the tubes with the same stupid grin. He heard Duster swallow hard, trying to keep the lunch he had just ate in his stomach. Boney whimpered and whined a few times, lowering his head and dragging his tail. And Lucas wasn't immune; he was completely unprepared for this ghastly sight. The earlier queasiness he felt from the heights came back to him in a crash.
The horrific sights didn't end with just the first room; the lines of green tubes filled with people just kept on going with the next, showing more and more people and animals, all with the same look and the same hue on their face.
It was difficult to keep looking at these people. It was difficult to look at anything, with the way the tubes kept on radiating the same disgusting green glow, illuminating every corner of the room in their light. Every eye was on them, whether they were alive or even conscious or not. Every moment longer they stayed in there, they loved their great Master Porky even more. Had every Pigmask started out like this? Had Isaac been here before? Could they break them out? Could they help these people?
Just to add to their uneasiness with the room as they slowly, almost physically painfully kept going, the familiar four chimes of the PA system sounded through the room, and from it, the mocking tone of Porky's voice, adding his own eyes to the dozens of pairs already watching their every step. "Your attention please," he said calmly, enjoying watching their pained steps forward.
It hadn't been so long since the device that instantly revitalized them, but Porky was absolutely right. It wasn't a far walk, but already, between all the Pigmasks and the robots, but especially these two rooms in particular, his arms and feet felt like lead. "But the real fun is just about to begin!" he hooted excitedly. "No more elevators! And just to be nice, you're precisely on the eighty-eighth floor of the building. Go through the doors and up the stairs! Just twelve floors left! Your dreams and goals are just twelve floors away!" he laughed.
The PA cut off halfway through his laugh once again. At the back of the second room, there were two large, blue steel doors, although unlike the...he had forgotten how many times again, but unlike all the other times, there was a glass button, but no painted arrow. His stomach was churning and his eyes were watering, knowing what was happening in this room, but, mustering up all the remaining strength and courage he had left, he pressed the button, and the doors flung open.
The next room was comparatively easy on the eyes. The lighting was fairly poor; the door opened up onto a stone pathway with a trio of staircases going straight up, surrounded by nothing but darkness all around. Were they even still inside the building? Still, the pathway was clearly illuminated for their use, and for the first time, the way forward was secured by handrails.
There were no enemies or obstacles or mazes for them to conquer any longer. Just a simple group of stairs. It was actually pretty nice: with no elevators, they could judge for themselves just how many floors they were climbing, and how quickly. Lucas counted along with each raised platform at the top of the stairs, numbering eighty-nine, ninety, and ninety-one, assuming Porky was telling the truth about what floor they were on, for once.
On the ninety-first floor, the stairs ended, leading into a small room deeper into the building. He had expected to find more stairs to take them the rest of the way, but he sighed when they passed through; he figured it couldn't have been that easy.
The man had a thin, twirled moustache, and he smelled of many different artificial odours. He looked, and he sounded, and he smelt familiar, from not too long ago, but Lucas couldn't quite put his finger on where. "I've changed my hat, so perhaps you do not recognize me," the man said, "but I was the chauffeur of that far-too-long and difficult-to-drive limousine when you first arrived here."
Lucas recognized him right away at that. "Oh yeah!" he said, looking over the man once again. He was surprisingly difficult to identify without that fine, flat hat, but there was no mistaking that it was him.
"I am pleased to see that you've made it this far," the man smiled. "Some of the workers here had taken bets on where and when you would either lose or give up, and it's great to see that you've won me a clean ten large." Suddenly, the chauffeur-turned-whatever was much less respectable in his eyes. He had been raised to believe that gambling was wrong, and when it involved himself, that was just making it personal. "But you're obviously here for something more important.
He tipped his hat and spun around on the spot whimsically. "Follow me, if you would," he said over his shoulder as he went into the room just beyond. From fan-rooms to mazes made of toilets to unfinished construction sites to laboratories specifically made to brainwash people and things, the room they were in looked awfully juvenile in comparison.
The next room over looked pretty, well, unnerving. It had a large, green-felt carpet with half a dozen holes drilled in a circle in its centre. The room had a particularly large 'audience', although it was just them, the host, and some other person holding a cue-card telling them to laugh. Everyone else had been painted unconvincingly right onto the wallpaper.
"I see you look a little puzzled," the host smirked, noticing Lucas's expression. "Allow me to explain.
to judge whether or not you're fit to be a wonderful playmate of his."
Kumatora looked around the room once more, for any hidden speakers or cameras, but she couldn't find any. "This is kind of ridiculous," she admitted. She didn't want to waste her time with any of this; she just wanted to plough ahead and slap Porky silly. Did they have to play his games?
"Well, sometimes, the most ridiculous of things can be the most entertaining, am I right?" the host asked. "Before you go and make any claims or judgements, let me explain the wonderful rules to this little miniature game.
"Our 'what's?" Lucas asked, but he was ignored.
"Allow me to stress that Master Porky absolutely adores that word: 'win'. Perhaps your favourite words, for the time being, should be 'indulge' and 'humour', if you catch my meaning." For a moment, the host of the game sounded a little less fanciful about the game, although Lucas was too hung-up about his mental something-or-other to catch it.
Do you understand the rules?" Lucas only then snapped out of it, paying closer attention to what the host was saying, and reflexively, he nodded his head positively. "Hit only the moles. If you hit the old man with the helmet, you'll get zapped, and nobody likes that." With that out of the way, the host walked to the rear side of the room, standing next to a large red double-door. "Now then!" he shouted extravagantly, waving his hand to the painted-on audience.
...Master Mini-Porky!" With the press of a button, the doors flung open quickly, and a rough, static rendition of the Pigmask's theme played over some unseen speakers. Suddenly, from the blackness beyond the doors, a small robot emerged, strutting mechanically into the room. It had painted yellow steel cut into a bowl-shape on its head, with a very round body and face. It had no eyes, so far as they could see, and on the top of its head was a kind of flashing light, alternating between red, white, and blue. Physically, it looked almost exactly like Porky's depictions from all over the city.
Whenever it opened its mouth, it never spoke any 'words', but instead, it made a series of unwelcome, ear-gouging screeches. It flapped its arms and stamped its feet as it spoke, and all three of them recoiled at the sight and the sound of it. "Ready, Master Mini-Porky?" the host asked, and thankfully, it did not respond. "Then, begin!"
Moles began to pop their heads out of the circle of holes in the centre of the floor at random times and places. The robot knew what to do, and, morphing its arm into a large, red, soft hammer, began pounding away at the helpless animals, avoiding the occasional human. Porky enjoyed this game? Beating up little animals with hammers?
As well-programmed as the robot appeared to be, it wasn't very light on its feet. There was no timer, so far as they could see, but in the amount of time the robot had, it only managed to whack ten moles out of a few dozen. The host, however, played up the result as best as he could, trying to make the robot's score like some kind of astounding world-record.
Alright, then, Master Lucas!" he continued, reaching into a small, hidden compartment in the wall to retrieve another hammer, just like the one the Mini-Porky used. "You'll need this. And remember what I told you!"
Lucas didn't actually remember what the host had said, other than whack the moles and avoid the people. Something about humour? He didn't find the game to be that funny, himself, but if winning at these things was what it took to get to Porky, he'd give it his all.
The game was remarkably easy, with how slowly the moles moved and how frequently they appeared. The robot must have needed an oil change or something to move so sluggishly among all the viable targets, and, tapping the moles as lightly as he could to score a point and not feel guilty about it, he absolutely went to town on the game.
By the time the bell had wrung, he had lost count of how many moles he had whacked, but it was definitely higher than ten. "The final tally!" the host asked, looking to the person with the cue-card standing in the corner, who quickly scribbled down a number and lifted it up to show them all. "Master Lucas's score is a grand thirteen moles whacked!"
Right away, the Mini-Porky began to flail about on the spot, its horrid screeching noise going nonstop as it waved its arms and kicked its legs in a sour tantrum, furious that it had lost at its own game. Lucas and Kumatora raised their hands to their ears, and Boney began to howl, although the distraction hardly seemed to bother Duster or the host.
The host began to pump his fists down onto some invisible plain, shouting the word "bang!" each time he swung down. Lucas could barely make out what he was saying through all the noise. "I thought the hammer was going to break in your hands! I can see the fire in your eyes from here, Master Lucas, and they're filled with an intense, burning hatred and desire for more destruction!"
Lucas could barely make out anything that the man was saying over the noise and his hands over his ears, but from the look on the host's face, he could tell that he did something wrong. Clearly he wasn't supposed to win.
I will grant you a second opportunity," the man said, and finally, the robot began to calm down, stopping its horrible yelling. "I know how much you want to beat those poor moles into submission, but please, try to refrain yourself this time."
Lucas understood what he was supposed to do this time, he was pretty certain. Just throw the match by hitting as few moles as possible and let Porky feel like a big man by winning in a landslide. That was easy enough. When the moles began to pop out of their holes again, he simply stood there.
"Lucas!" Duster yelled after a moment. "Hit them! Hit the moles!" He was getting mixed messages: he was supposed to let Porky win, but he wasn't supposed to lose, either? He began to wish he had asked the host to repeat himself before starting the whole game, and by the time the bell had wrung, he had only managed to get in one hit.
"The final tally!" the host called again, and again, the person standing in the corner of the room scribbled a few numbers onto its sign. "Master Lucas's new record is now a paltry single hit!" Again, the robot opened its mouth, and a terrible song of loud, scratchy noises filled the room, causing the whole thing to start over again.
Our great Master Porky requires total participation in his activities and full focus from all parties involved, and if you're going to treat it like some kind of passé pastime, I'm afraid I can't let you continue." Like last time, he was having trouble hearing anything the man had to say over the distractions and his own hands over his ears. "I will grant you one final attempt, Master Lucas," he continued, and finally, the robot shut up once more, "but if you fail this time, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
He tried to keep his composure, with his ears still ringing from the noises. So...he wasn't supposed to win, obviously, but he wasn't supposed to lose. He doubted he was supposed to tie with the robot, either, since Porky was probably the kind of person to not see anyone as his equal, much less his better. So maybe he was just supposed to make it close?
The third attempt for him started exactly the same as the other two. The score to not beat was ten, so, with his new plan to make it seem convincing, he whacked the first nine moles he could, and then simply stood in the centre of the ring, waiting for the bell to sound.
Again, it did, and again, the host called for the tally. "Master Lucas's final record: a hair-raising nine!" The robot opened its mouth, and quickly Lucas reached to cover his ears - although the sound it made was much quieter, down to a tolerable level. Still horrendous to listen to, but it was tolerable. "Oh, my!" the host exclaimed, doing his best to look surprised. "Master Mini-Porky!
The robot shushed itself right away, finally complacent with the results of the miniature game. "What a wonderful game! My poor, old heart was ready to give way at a moment's notice!" The robot turned around and walked back to the doors, swinging them open without pressing a button.
"Let's make our way to the next game, shall we?" said the man, and he too disappeared into the darkness of the next room, leaving the four of them alone with the painted audience and the single person holding the cue-card.
"Well, this is all awfully petty," Duster said, looking around the room. "I wouldn't mind the match-fixing if it you could have just sat there, but he wanted to make it look convincing, in front of a fake audience."
"At least I know what I need to do for whatever games he plans next," said Lucas, agreeing with Duster as they moved into the next room of the building.
It was almost exactly like the last set of stairs, only they used a different colour of stone for the tiles this time: a shiny bronze instead of the boring gray. Otherwise, there was nothing new to the room, but it was still reassuring to climb the stairs rather than ride the elevator. And to help his easiness with the stairs along, his earlier nausea from the 'nice person hot spring' faded away quickly.
He felt his earlier pains and aches from the floors below, with the robots and the Pigmasks to battle, slowly ebb away with the new PSI he cast on reflex. It was like the earlier Lifeup tricks he had known since the beginning, but rather than cure his (and, potently, his friends') aches and pains all at once, his strength returned to him with every step slowly. Reinvigorated, he counted the raised platforms at the top of every flight, counting up to ninety-two, ninety-three, and ninety-four until they reached the very top platform, reaching into the next room.
The host ushered them into the next room: two raised platforms across a large, horizontal hallway, with shallow pit extending the whole way across. Long, blue bits of cardboard cut out to resemble water waved automatically in the pit, resembling a long ocean, and connecting the two platforms were long, purple pieces of wood. The Mini Porky had already taken a position near the farther bridge, and waited only for Lucas to take his position.
"Next is," the host yelled, carrying his voice over the distance, having somehow already made it across the pit, "the Purple Bridge Racing Game!" He began to pace back and forth between the two long planks. "The rules are quite easy. A simple footrace across the bridges: you will both begin at the same time, and whoever makes it to the other side first is the victor. And, Lucas, a word to the wise," the host warned, "if you have the two words 'indulge' and 'divulge',
Lucas was paying attention this time, and he understood the meaning completely. Just stick to the plan: keep it close, but lose in the end. That wasn't too hard to do. "Whenever you're ready, simply take your position on the unoccupied bridge."
They all looked down the path between the two raised platforms. The bridge was narrow, but the risk from falling at least wasn't that great, and there was no wind to threaten him. "This is pretty dumb," Duster sighed, "but go and not-quite-knock-him-dead anyway."
Lucas took his spot on the other bridge, ready to casually walk down it at a slow pace.
He nearly tripped over himself at the false start. Although he wasn't exactly raring to go, sprinting full-tilt down the line, he still needed to make sure he didn't jump the gun, lest the robot accuse him of cheating and start wailing that noise it had again. "All right, then! On your mark, get set, and go!" That time, Lucas simply waited for the Mini Porky to make the first move, before setting down his own bridge.
Purely for aesthetics, a number of stage props popped up and down between the waves of water below the bridge, 'threatening' to knock them off their balance at any given moment. Sharks and crocodiles - not chimeras, interestingly - made of cardboard continued to swish up and down on the spot, encouraging the two contestants to run faster.
The Mini Porky walked along its own bridge at a very broken pace. Sometimes it would speed up, and sometimes it would stop completely. It was actually more trying than Lucas had realized: it was hard to stay just a little bit behind the robot when it kept lunging forward and stopping at totally random spots, while also keeping his balance on the little bridge. Very nearly he crossed the finish line before the robot did when it dashed forward for a few feet and then stop just a pace or two from the line.
But it wasn't that hard to not put in a lot of effort, and eventually they both made it across. The light on the Mini Porky's head began to flash blue, and it screeched the same awful sound, at a much more agreeable volume, very happy with the turnout of the competition. "Oh my! Master Mini-Porky!" the host exclaimed, although he sounded more relieved than excited.
That was a match for the ages! A race like this will go down in history!" The robot's song and dance continued on, enjoying the praise the host was heaping onto it, though Lucas wished he would stop so it would stop making that noise. Just behind him, his friends and his dog were heading down his bridge, towards the other raised platform. "With this excitement out of the way, we can move on to the third and final match between our great and wonderful Master Porky, versus the up-and-comer farm-boy Lucas!"
That convinced the robot to stop, and it and the host disappeared into the darkness of the next room, onto the final miniature game. The electronic whirring of the props below the bridges ceased, and the waves and the distractions stopped bounding up and down on the spot. "Just one more," said Kumatora, although he couldn't tell if she was encouraging him, or supporting herself. He could understand the latter; the Empire Porky Building was a very trying and tiring building.
More of the same stairs, coloured more of a dull, off-red than anything else. They were adorned with the same handrails, with the same lights illuminating their path and little else. But their numbers as they climbed to the platforms at the top of the flights, going from ninety-five, ninety-six, and ninety-seven gave them energy and a hurried desire to continue onward and get to Porky, just a paltry three floors away by now.
At the top of the last flight of stairs was another room, and the host was standing there patiently, waiting for Lucas and his friends to make it to the top.
The game in the next room looked fairly simple, at a glance. There were two platforms, each with an air pump latched onto a limp balloon. He could guess what the objective of the game was, but he didn't want to jump to any conclusions. "The name of the final game," the host announced from a small table to the left of the doorway, "is 'To Whom Goes The Boom?!". The rules are really quite elementary.
Lucas still had no idea what he meant by his mental whatever-it-was, but he didn't let it distract him this time. He was already planning a way to lose to the robot by making it as close as possible. "The first person to pop their balloon is the victor, and Master Lucas, you would be pleased to know that the points for this game have been tripled, so you might make an astounding come-from-behind victory!"
He didn't know there were points involved - not that it mattered in the least, since he was going to lose either way. "If you could please take your position, Master Lucas, we can begin." There was only one empty pump for him to take, so, nervously, he took his spot next to it. He had to be very careful and start his own pump after the robot had made its first, and then never regain that lead.
"On your marks," said the announcer, acting as best as he could to be excited, "get set...go!"
Lucas waited a moment before beginning, to make sure that the announcer wasn't trying to pull another fast one, and so the Mini Porky could get a small lead. Once it was one or two pumps ahead, he began to pump into his own balloon - and quickly realized that their pumps were quite different. For every pump Lucas made, it seemed as though he was getting twice the air into his balloon.
That made it much more difficult to gauge just how far ahead which of them was. He did his best to judge their leads by the size of the balloons, cautiously only making a pump every few seconds to make sure his balloon wasn't any larger than the robot's. Thankfully, just as he was getting too nervous to keep pumping, the Mini Porky's balloon exploded first, and it went through the quiet song and dance with the light on its head flashing blue. It must have been just close enough.
The host showed them to the back door of the room, leading onto the final set of staircases going up the Empire Porky Building. He began applauding Lucas and his efforts to just-barely-fail, happy that he could let Lucas pass on and upwards.
The robot showed itself into a hidden compartment behind the desk, disappearing into the wall and out of their sight for good. "I hereby deem you fit to meet Master Porky." The host stepped aside, showing them to hopefully the last pair of steel doors they would ever have to go through. "Our great Master Porky has requested your audience, and there is no point in delaying you further. Go on! And meet our wonderful king!"
They didn't need a second invitation. After Lucas thanked the host for the applause and the advice, they rushed through the door, dashing up the steps and towards their final destination in the Empire Porky Building. As though to appreciate their efforts in climbing so high and fighting so hard, the final staircases were painted a brilliant gold, and unlike the others, it had a luxurious red carpet, leading them onward, up to the ninety-eighth,
and one-hundredth floor.
After what seemed like days, and after having to put up with Porky's taunts and tricks and his sick ideas for games and traps and mazes, and having to put up with lying elevators and brainwashed workers, they finally succeeded in making it to the one-hundredth floor - the very highest floor in the very tallest building in the world.
None of them could really contain their excitement at finally having made the long, terrible climb to the very top of the tower. Knowing everything they knew, and how close Porky must have been to the final Needle sealing the Dark Dragon away, they allowed themselves to fantasize that Porky was just beyond the final door, and they could finally put him in his place after so long.
Naturally, what they found wasn't what they expected at all - par the course for the Empire Porky Building. "Holy cow!" Kumatora nearly shouted at seeing the massive monstrosity in the tiny little room. A robot the size of a truck with pointy legs and stout arms, its piggy face took up its entire body, with a pair of bloodshot red eyes, unblinking, looking down at them. On the top of its skull was a brain - a human brain - sealed securely in a tight glass dome, presumably hooked into operating the machine.
The machine made no movement when the intruders approached. Its eyes were glued right to them, but it was like it couldn't see them, staring straight through them with their red, lifeless eyes. They were frozen stiff; should they turn around and think of a strategy? Should they tear it apart? Duster was about to suggest they leave and think about it for a moment: fighting something so massive would take a lot of coordination and teamwork, and preferably, some preparation. But just as he opened his mouth, the familiar four-tone chime sounded as the PA hummed back on.
This is, in fact, honest-to-goodness, if I'm lyin' I'm dyin', the real one-hundredth floor that you and your goody-two-shoes pals have been wanting to visit so badly." He chortled a bit, trying his best to hold back his laughs that he was so fond of. A dull, slow rendition of the Pigmask's marching theme was playing behind his voice. Was that always there? "Again, I welcome you, my beloved, detestable pests. I welcomed you, and I forced you to jump through flaming hoops to get here." He choked back another laugh. "Man, you guys are morons! I haven't had this much fun in many years!"
Kumatora grunted. She felt like she was a rat in a maze; a gerbil in a cage. She had danced for Porky, and she was going to enjoy making him return the favour. "Anywho, you're free to come in if you wish. This is an invitation not very many people receive, I'll have you know!
Who knows," he sighed, "maybe this will be where we say goodbye. You came so close, and yet it's just so far away." He gave a short pause, letting Lucas and his friends cower a little bit in his robot's intimidation. "Well, let's not waste any more time and turn it on, what do you say? Say hello to the Natural Killer Cyborg!"
Suddenly, the machine clicked on, and with an ominous series of grinding noises as it slowly pulled itself up,
they fought the guardian of the one-hundredth floor of the Empire Porky Building.
The cyborg looked menacing and it put up a terrific, violent fight, but eventually, not even Porky's most powerful and well-developed machine could stop them and their resolve. With it reduced to nothing more than a pile of wires and gears, they pushed forward, into the final reaches of the one-hundredth floor. Porky wasn't too far away. They could feel it.
He apparently refused to give them the satisfaction of encountering him immediately, however. Beyond the door wasn't a bedroom or an office with Porky sitting in it, but instead, a massively long corridor, painted the same gold with the same long red carpet leading them to another door that was in plain sight, but was quite a long walk away.
There were no ornaments or paintings on the walls: just the occasional lamp hanging from the ceiling to show them the way. The walk was long and uneventful, which suited them just fine.
The doors were made of wood, surprisingly. He would have liked to say that he didn't expect to find what was behind them, but in this building, that was always the case.
A stream of water separated them from wherever Porky was hiding. It didn't look too terribly daunting as an obstacle, though, especially since he had given them a boat to ride downstream - although a miniature house as a cabin was a particular design decision. It looked more advanced than his own house, but it didn't look cheap and fake like everything he had seen in New Pork City. He decided that he liked the way it looked.
As they boarded the tiny boat, there was a single button, labelled 'forward', probably to take them downstream. On the left side of the boat was a peculiar gallery of some miscellaneous stuff that didn't seem to have any particular theme to them: right next to the boat was a large, black bus with some luggage strapped to its roof, with the words 'Runaway Five' written across the top of the bus's frame. Right next to that was an enormous purple monster, but it was no chimera: it had a goofy grin on its reptilian face and a pair of friendly eyes, but from where Lucas was standing, he couldn't tell if it was alive and just shy, or stuffed. And right next to the creature was a simple yellow car, with a checkerboard design looping around its frame horizontally, with the word 'taxi' advertised on a small sign on its top.
Next to the yellow car was a small collection of mundane household items. He recognized the lamp, but the large green box and the small black device, each with some kind of handheld stick connecting to them via a long, swirly line, was beyond him. Next to those was a large, gray sphere with a ring around its orbit, some glass windows to look into or out of, and a number of legs along its bottom for support. Was it some kind of vehicle, like the cars? And right next to it were some more plain items: two ordinary statues, depicting a large, sharp pencil, and another depicting a plain, ordinary eraser.
Right next to those was a large yellow...something. It had an elongated, triangular body with a glass front, and it stood on three wheels. It had a small number of propellers circling its top and the tip of its tail, and the enigmatic word 'heli' written on its side. Next to the 'heli' was another statue, but this one was massive, nearly outdoing Porky's own statue in the city. It had a face and a body like a man's, although he looked constantly sad with his hollow eyes and defeated frown, and his feet were very stubby and flat. Right past the statue was another bus, although there didn't appear to be anything special about it besides the gloss of its chrome frame.
Continuing on down the slow-but-relaxing boat-ride and watching Porky's personal gallery scroll by, the next item was a small machine, with a wide, boxy frame and a small readout stretched across a chunk of steel at its top. It had a wide slot for something thin, like a card, to slide into. Next to that was another yellow-something, this one with a long, aerodynamic oval shape and only a few windows along its sides. It had a long steel pipe jutting out of its top, and a set of propellers hidden behind its tail. Next to whatever that was, was a simple bike: Lucas was surprised to see that a man that abhorred stairs 'because they mocked him' had a bike hidden in his personal gallery.
With the ending in sight, there were only three more items in the gallery for them to see: one of them was another gray, spherical device with four legs to stand on, but unlike the other thing, this one had the definitive shape of a Mister Saturn, bulbous nose, ribbon on its head, and all. Whatever did he need a machine shaped like a Mister Saturn for? Did the Saturns themselves make it? Right next to that was another machine, although its design was far too unconventional for him to really understand: a glass dome on its top, followed by some kind of wrinkly metal with a number of pointed legs sticking out of a bulbous carapace below. It looked quite menacing. And finally, right next to that last machine was...an empty stand, containing absolutely nothing. Was it a free space, or was it meant for something later? Leaning over the side of the ship, he could make out two, almost-imperceptible dots, one black and one white, resting on the stand. They looked like...sesame seeds?
The boat came to the end of the stream at last, automatically docking itself next to a platform with another door going into the next room. They had no idea what the gallery was all about, but, like the series of stills at the theatre, they must have meant something to Porky.
The next room over was possibly the last one before Porky. They could tell right away.
There was a nice little box, gift-wrapped just to the side of the red carpet, and next to it was another of the smaller statues from the gallery. It could have been a trap, he knew, but maybe Porky just wanted to show them something. Opening the box, he found a tiny, long steel device, and a single piece of paper, instructing that the device would eradicate any iron, pencil-shaped objects in just one second.
And to demonstrate, there was an iron, pencil-shaped object right next to the box. Why would Porky want to showcase this little thing? Still, 'humour' and 'indulge' were still good words to think by, just for now, and he pointed the device at the statue.
That was...well, it did what it said it would do. He carefully placed the device back into the box, afraid it might decide to erase anything else.
The next door's frame was reinforced with layers upon layers of heavy steel, with differently shaped pipes hooking into and around the walls all around the door. Remnants of vines hung limply over the door itself, looking old and malnourished - they reminded him of the vines over the...he forgot it's name, but the temple that held Ionia's Needle. If a powerful bomb developed by the Pigmasks couldn't break apart those vines, then Porky really did everything he could to defend his final room on the final floor from anyone.
But for them...it was open. The door swung open easily.
Beyond it was a dank, sterile gray corridor. Gone were the pleasantries and warm welcomes of the earlier golden hallways. There were no more lights, and there was no more heating. The only thing that illuminated their path was the lights from the room before them, and the dull twilight of whatever room was just beyond.
More of the same vines littered into the hallways from various cracks along the floor. The only sounds to keep them company were the tapping of their shoes against the cold concrete, and occasionally the steel of yet more stairs (perhaps they weren't on the one-hundredth floor after all?), and the rushing winds of the door-less opening awaiting them at the top. Ominous vines surrounded the open mouth in the wall, daring them to venture past.
Just beyond it was a wide, open balcony overlooking...seemingly nothing. A number of craggy, scary mountains in the distance, besieged by a lightning storm. There was no fourth wall to the large room they were in, and, as reassuringly as it was terrifying, there was no way forward. No more doors or hallways or elevators. They were in the very final room.
"Look up," Duster instructed, craning his head back. They did as he said, and they saw, hanging above them, was a ceiling of more hanging, malnourished vines, absolutely covering the very top of the room. Red and blue pipes, pumping unknown liquids or gases into whatever was hanging just beyond the vines, mixed in with several dirty, rusty gears, obstructed whatever lay just beyond the vines frozen in time.
"The beginning...of the end," Porky said slowly, from nowhere in particular. His voice was not covered by the static of the PA system, and there were no chimes. He was in there with them. "The end...of everything."
Lucas was the first to look back down from the hanging vines, and he was the first to see Porky.
He looked a lot like the statues and depictions the city had made him out to be. A large bowl-cut haircut that obscured his eyes; chubby cheeks and double-chins; a wide, circular body; and a scrunched nose up against his face, preventing his mouth from closing completely. He was dressed in casual overalls, over a white dress-shirt with a red bow-tie, and he wore black children's running shoes. This was the man that was about to bring the world to its end.
Bravely, Lucas stepped forward, keeping his mouth shut. Through the whole trip up the tower, he had thought of things to say and actions to take once he saw Porky. He had killed his mother and his brother. He had torn apart his friends and family, and he had destroyed his home in Tazmily. He had changed the Nowhere Islands into something unrecognizable, a silhouette of what it once was. But now, standing face-to-face with a boy not much older or younger than he was, he suddenly found his will shot. When Kumatora didn't take any action either, after all her boasting and threats she made towards him, he could only assume she was the same way.
I'm really just this meek little boy, from a quiet little town, in a friendly, warm country." The way how his whole face had to stretch to close his mouth when he spoke was really rather unnerving. Something else about Porky put Lucas off, though: he didn't sound anything like the Porky on the speakers.
Lucas's fingers were trembling, and his eyes kept losing their focus. He wanted to do something, anything, but standing just before the one person that had taken everything from him just...did something to his resolve. When Porky approached them, slowly taking some steps forward and his expression unchanging, Lucas, and his friends, couldn't help but take a step back, keeping their distance.
Please talk to me like good boys and girls. You know, just like me."
'Just like me'. Porky was nothing like him. Porky loved to torture animals and brainwash people. He destroyed civilizations and altered history just for a laugh. That Porky had made the insinuation that they were anything alike at all gave Lucas enough willpower to at least defy him.
He stuttered as he spoke, his tone taking a much more deeper turn. "But, actually," he continued, calming himself. "I'm not very nice, either."
Surprisingly, he exploded.
"Are we all okay?" Duster asked quickly once the ringing in their ears left. He didn't know what Porky was capable of, but he knew, if they wanted to stand a chance, they could never let their guards down. They each coughed out a positive response, and Boney simply got back up, shaking the wear out of his fur.
Before they had a chance to recollect themselves and think of what to do, another Porky fell from the hanging vines above. Then another, and then three more,
and before they could get a word out,
they were surrounded.
Quickly, they fell back into their normal battle positions. Duster and Boney fought the Porky robots up close, while Kumatora and Lucas hung back, providing offensive and supportive PSI support for the others, respectively. Their normal routine was to strengthen and fortify themselves in the face of a powerful adversary, while simultaneously taking away its own strengths and defences as well as they could.
They had never really fought against multiple enemies like they were now, and while it wasn't proving to be the very best tactic against the robots, it was still working well enough for them.
Unlike the blocky robot from the miniature games several floors down, these robots were very light on their feet. They moved quickly, slipping through and between the nubile Duster and Boney whenever they had the chance and getting at the two PSI users in the back. Kumatora didn't stand for that and would often slap them back, but Lucas was having trouble focusing on two things at once, and left himself open more often than not.
Often, for some reason, the Porky robots wouldn't attack at all; sometimes they would simply stand there and smile insincerely. Other times they would try to play up to their humanity, by looking sad, or shying away from the fight, or proposing some kind of truce. Lucas forgot about the two words he had memorized from earlier: this may be his turf, but this was their fight.
Duster and Boney's focused offensive on a single one of the Porky robots quickly caused it to malfunction, and, like the very first one before it, it gave off an incredible explosion once it began to fail. Like last time, they were all caught by surprise, and they were each enveloped in its blast.
It wasn't anything a quick Lifeup Omega couldn't fix for Lucas, but if they kept exploding like that, he didn't know how long he could keep up the support. But at least there were only four remaining.
With the PSI guards and buffs Lucas had put into place, Duster and Boney were hitting twice and hard, and could take twice as many hits before they called to Lucas for a boost. While their strategy was best suited to a single opponent, the Porky robots were fragile enough to fall after only a few hits in their super-powered state.
Those explosions were difficult to escape, however, but either way, they kept doing what they did best, and quickly, the robots' numbers were dwindling down.
When the final robot was scraped by its own explosion, Lucas assumed the worst was over. That wasn't nearly as tough as he had anticipated it to be; they were surrounded on all sides, but with their same strategy, they managed to easily come out ahead of Porky's robots.
Suddenly, a sixth one dropped down from the vines above, landing right between the lot of them.
It started sounding a peculiar alarm - a sound soft, barely audible by their own ears, although Boney suddenly started whining and barking at the robot, trying to get it to stop. Unexpectedly, from the corners of the room and dropping from the vines up above, a number of chimeras joined in the fight as well.
"Oh, screw that!" Kumatora yelled. "Duster! Boney! Get out of the way!"
It wasn't unusual for Kumatora to call the others to get away front the frontlines, often to level the playfield with some of her PSI. Lucas sometimes did it too, when he was feeling confident enough to cast another of his powerful PK Love attacks. Once they were clear of the field, retreating to any of the far edges of the room, Kumatora unleashed an explosion of her own.
It obliterated the two chimeras in a blink, and it crippled the Porky robot, although it still had enough fight in it to unleash another blast. Again, they took the chance to breathe a sigh and calm down from the battle, but once again, another Porky robot dropped from the vines up above, reigniting the fight once again with another call for more chimeras.
Kumatora wasn't ready to get out another PK Starstorm, though; as wicked powerful as it was, she couldn't muster up the energy to cast it so many times at once. Not that that was a problem: Duster and Boney just rushed back in and finished them the old fashioned way.
But once that Porky robot was defeated...
...three more immediately dropped from the ceiling, and just as soon as Lucas saw them, he knew this fight probably wasn't going to end well. They were doing well and still had quite a bit of fight left in all of them, but without knowing just how many of the robots were remaining, he knew that it would be an uphill fight no matter what.
The three Porky robots managed to catch them all by surprise, and quickly, they all dog-piled onto Duster, pinning him to the ground. Boney barked and snapped at the three, biting at their steel feet and legs while Duster grunted to try and fight them off. Kumatora rushed in to help, and Lucas panicked, reflexively wanting to cast some PSI to fight them off but knowing Duster would get hit in the blast.
All of a sudden, though, his action would be made for him, from a very welcome surprise from just outside the door.
Bacchio, the drummer, was first to enter the room. He didn't waste any words or introductions with Lucas, seeing his bassist under a pile of robots. He sprinted into the room, his sunglasses glinting in whatever light the room had to offer, and mercilessly pounced onto the first Porky robot he saw, ripping it right off of Duster and, somehow, lifting it high over his head before slamming it into the floor.
"Tonda Gossa!" he said, smiling at the others and their shocked expressions when he and the rest of the band burst into the room. "Man, that felt good! Dramatic climaxes are when unruly dudes like us really get to shine!"
As if to agree with his statement, Shimmy Zmizz was next, running up to the fallen Porky robot and giving it a powerful kick to its skull, sending it flying out of the room's window, not even giving it a chance to explode.
"It seems as though this Porky guy was using our music to brainwash everyone," said their pianist, giving a surprised, but relieved, Lucas a hearty thumbs-up. "We really should have realized after half our songs were about him in some way. But we decided to screw up his plans anyhow."
Magic, their electric guitarist, ran into the fray next, grabbing the first Porky robot he saw by its ankles, and lugging it off of Duster.
With a couple of quick spins on the spot, letting the momentum pick up the Porky robot for him, he tossed the machine right out the window next, out of their sight. With just the one robot still on top of Duster, he easily managed to kick it off, whipping himself back onto his feet. Magic and Bacchio gripped onto the Porky robot by its arms, holding it still, unafraid of the explosive danger it might have.
"Don't thank us yet, Duster!" shouted a familiar voice, dashing into the room right after his band-mates.
OJ, their band-leader and master saxophonist, leapt right up to the final Porky robot, glaring at it through its gaudy bowl-cut.
Clenching his right hand into a fist, he thrust his hand forward, puncturing right through the robot's stomach and quickly wrenching out a handful of gears and wires - among them the bomb, defusing it before it had a chance to explode. Unsatisfied, OJ raised his foot up, kicking the robot square on its scrunched nose, knocking it out of Bacchio's and Magic's arms, where it did not get back up.
Lucas, Kumatora, Duster and Boney were all panting from the fight, exhausted from battling the robots as intensely as they had. They weren't quite as difficult as Porky's cyborg, but they had numbers on their side. Lucas couldn't help but break out into a laugh once he saw that no more Porky robots were falling from the vines up above.
But before everyone could break out into congratulation over their victory, one final surprise calmly walked into the room after the DCMC.
He spun around on the spot, his heart nearly stopping when he heard that voice. Standing there, in the door's frame, in the flesh, as real as the others standing with him, was his father. He looked fairly ragged and his clothes were unwashed and dirty - not unusual, since he spent most of his time in the mountains, and Lucas hadn't been at home to wash their clothes lately. His eyes began to water once he saw that his dad, his dad, was really there, and was really patting their dog on the head. "Dad?" he asked faintly.
Flint looked up at his son. The blue of his eyes and the tilt of his hat were completely unmistakeable. He felt the same connection with his son, but he didn't quite reciprocate the feeling: for Flint it had only been two or three days, but for Lucas, it felt like half a year, at the very least. And, like Nippolyte had told him, he wasn't very good at emoting. "Did you get that medal from Nippolyte?" was all he asked, not-unkindly, and Lucas, too chocked for words, just nodded.
Another welcome surprise walked into the room right after Flint.
I guess it doesn't matter either way," he hummed, then grinned towards his own son. "You've done well, Duster. I'm proud of you."
Duster smiled back. "Thanks, dad."
"You save the world yet?"
"Almost. We found out what the Egg of Light is for."
Wess's eyes widened. "Really?"
"Yeah. I'll tell you about it over some Nut Tea when we're done here."
One by one, more and more people began to flood into Porky's previously-untarnished sanctuary, to give Lucas whatever support they could. From uncle Bronson, Lighter, and Flint, to provide sheer muscle; to his grandfather Alec and his childhood friend Fuel for emotional support. Everybody he loved was here to help him, and right away, he recalled Leder's earlier words: that everyone would be there to help him through to the end.
Yet another surprise came right through the door as Doctor Andonuts nervously walked in, sticking to the far side of the room. He said nothing as he approached, simply keeping his eyes on the vines hanging high above them, and, as if on cue, the PA's familiar three chimes sounded, followed by Porky's demeaning voice. Although, unlike every other time he came on the speakers, he sounded more like his age, talking slowly and coughing and wheezing up a storm into his microphone.
Everyone looked around the room, trying to locate the source of the sound. Lucas looked around on the spot, unsure of where Porky wanted him to 'come closer', and eventually settled on looking back out the window of the room. "Is that what you look like?" Porky asked. "I was the one who brought you here. I am a journeyman, having gone to, and come from, many times and places. Past and future, here and there.
I am your new king! Your new ruler! Your master, Porky Minch!"
He chortled again, trying to get out another wicked laugh like he liked to do, but he wound up coughing and sputtering through his throat again. Everybody kept searching the room, trying to find just where the voice was coming from, but it seemed to come from everywhere at once. "I welcome you once again," he laughed boisterously, "you weak hangers-on, pretending to be the last survivors of a forgotten world! Spankety, spankety, spankety!" He guffawed and hooted some more, not carrying about the lumps in his old throat, finding it all just too much to contain.
They heard the sound of something stretching and straining above them, and, looking up, they all received their answer.
Sitting in front of them, at long last, was their enemy. No more tricks or deceptions: there was Porky, the ruler of New Pork City. His bowl-cut had remained, though his hair had turned slate-white. His overalls and his shirt and even his sneakers did not change, although they had all since long lost their colour, and they too were bleached white. He had no teeth and his nose was still as scrunched as ever. He sat in what appeared to be some kind of demonic crib, and the only thing that hadn't lost his colour on him was his skin: instead of drying out and turning a chalk-white, it had, somehow turned blue.
Facing his audience, Porky coughed and hacked up another storm, before his tired, scratchy-old voice spoke once again.
where humanity's past failures would never be repeated," he said, slowly, condescendingly. Most of the people he was addressing had no clue what he was talking about, but he didn't care. He was talking to Lucas. "How stupid can you be?!" he yelled, suddenly thrashing about in his crib spastically, throwing a huge tantrum on the spot.
in the end, the creatures known as 'people'," he spat, raising his fingers for air-quotes, "will always sign their death warrant by acting out of stupidity and evil. There's no stopping it, Lucas!" He lurched forward, trying to get a reaction out of the boy, but Lucas held still, not giving Porky the pleasure. "And then that'll be it! Mankind will be gone for good! There is no 'safe bastion' for anyone anymore! My city is all you have left! You could have lived your lives happily, with no problems at all, if you had only just done what I did
He was confused about that last part. 'Following the visionary, selfish desires of a great hero'? He wracked his mind, trying to think of anybody that Porky knew that could fit that description. "You mean, that guy in the theatre?"
"Shut up!" Porky yelled as loudly as his old lungs would allow him. "He was fifteen thousand million times better a person you could ever hope to be! You're not fit to talk about him! You don't even deserve to know his name!" Immediately after his fit, he began to cough and wheeze some more, having trouble keeping his health and his composure at once.
Nobody offered him an answer. Porky was clearly insane; there was no way to really talk to him at all. "Well, whatever," he eventually said, calming back down onto the cushions of his crib. "The curtain is about to fall on this pathetic little play of yours. Because, soon, the power of everything will be all mine."
"Yeah, no," Kumatora said. "Ain't no way that's happenin', pal. We'll just beat you an' whatever little toady you have left for us."
Porky began to laugh once more, hearing her bravado. "Where do you think that Needle is right now?" he managed to say. "It's sure-as-shootin' not all the way up here, on the one-hundredth floor of the tallest building in the world! In the universe! Man, you guys are idiots!"
Porky brought an old, shaky hand up to his eye, wiping away a tear. "Ah, anyway,
and now I'll just blink it all away by acquiring the ultimate power." He almost started another of his crazy laughs, but his throat gave way before he could, and he spent much of it gasping and coughing to regain himself. "Though everything so far has been fun and games with you all, I've given you many a concession.
But," he giggled, "now that we're face-to-face like this, I won't hold anything back any longer. My slave..." he looked to Lucas, then off to the distance - to Flint. "My lifeless son will pull my Needle for me. And the moment he does, the Dragon should awaken and do as I want." He held back another laugh as best as he could. "I dunno what's gonna happen to you morons. You'll turn to garbage or dust or I don't even know, and you'll all finally disappear for good. I'll admit that that's kind of sad, I guess, maybe, way in the back of my heart,
It was like Leder had guessed. Porky had done it all for a laugh. Because he had nothing better to do. "Do you understand now?" he asked.
He began to laugh, and he began to cough once more. Like when he had first seen the Porky robot, he wanted to attack the real, genuine Porky just as much. Hearing that he had literally done it all because he had nothing better to do, and still hyped on the adrenaline from the fight, he began to prepare as strong a PK Love as he could muster.
But before he could, a loud alarm sounded through the room, bathing everyone in a yellow flash of light. "Oh!" Porky exclaimed, clapping delightedly. "I know how much you love your little dramatic plays, so this couldn't have come at a better time for you!
Angrily, Doctor Andonuts rushed towards the front of the group, tired of hiding in the shadows and confronting Porky directly. "I refuse to help you anymore!" he shouted. He fumbled with his next words: he knew how powerful Porky was and what he could do, and it took him long enough just to gather up the courage to say what he already had.
"'I refuse to help you anymore!'" Porky mimicked, raising his pitch and cocking his head left and right with each word. "Get out of here, old man, I've run out of things for you to do a while ago." Smirking deviously, Porky turned his attentions back to Lucas, already having forgotten about Andonuts. "I assume you want to pull it too, am I right?" Lucas said nothing. "Go on ahead and check it out, then.
Maybe then you can make the home stretch of this little game at least a little exciting, hmm?" Porky's old fingers began to dance on some panels hidden behind the crib's edges, pressing a number of buttons surprisingly quickly. "But if you don't mind, I'm going to give myself a head-start." Without even wanting to laugh, Porky began to hack and cough, lurching and twisting on the spot to try and keep himself under control.
Spankety, spankety, spankety!" he mocked, and with a few more keystrokes, the crib was raised back up, into the vines hanging above.
Lucas was about to chase after him with a PK Love, but, just before he could, he felt a sudden shift in the floor below him.
And before they knew it,
the floor was falling faster than they were,
before coming to a very sudden stop.
Very little to talk about post-update, since there isn't a lot of freedom to move around in the final stretch of the game. But there's still some things: first of all, listen to Natural Born Killer and Porky's Porkies. They are awesome and they only lose to Strong One in terms of awesomeness (in my opinion) because they're both one-offs.
The song Time Passage is from Mother 1, or Earthbound Zero. A Certain Someone's Memories is from Mother 2, or Earthbound, if you couldn't tell from the screenshots, but I don't think it's from any one scene. I haven't played Earthbound for a while so I might be wrong.
Only a few things: first, the Awesome Cloak.
This thing has three points less defence than the Heavy Charm, so it's defensively not your best bet, but it offers a bonus to all the elements. Which is redundant because by your very first opportunity to get this item, Lucas is totally immune to thunder anyhow, but here you go. This took me maybe an hour and a half to eventually get.
You can get this by fighting Upgraded Robots. It has a 3% chance of dropping, and I found this totally by accident. I had no idea it existed. I did some research, and,
this thing has a 3% chance of dropping a Goddess Ribbon, a defence item for Kumatora or Boney. By the time I realized it existed, I was long past it.
you can sleep on these to regain your strength before the Natural Killer Cyborg.
Speaking of sleep, that's a pretty good idea.