Part 5: Crossing the Garil Desert (Part 1)
After a good night's sleep, the sun rises bright and clear on Edge, Gash, and especially Roderick, who feels much refreshed (and, helpfully, gains all of his HP and BP back). As Edge turns to head behind a nearby building to relieve himself, Gash interrupts him.
I was supposed to rendezvous with another seeker across the desert. But I can't cross the desert alone. You wouldn't leave me stranded here...would you? How about a lift?
Gash: Thanks! In return...I'll show you the way across the desert. Don't worry, I'm a great navigator.
Edge, remembering that deserts are rather difficult to navigate across, asks exactly *how* they're going to cross the desert.
Gash: Cross the desert underground...that's what we do. All the monsters indigenous to the desert live on the surface.
Edge: Underground? How?
Gash: There are many ways. Worm tunnels, subterranean waterways...we just have to search.
Satisfied and impressed by the seeker's knowledge, Edge decides to ask Gash some more questions.
About the Oasis
Gash: Most of the deserts we've seen have a body of water nearby. Look for something like an oasis. If we can find some way to drain the water...we can use the underground streams as passageways.
About the Worm Tunnels
Gash: The monsters in the deserts are very dangerous...except for the worms. They won't attack us, and they can open passageways to get underground.
Edge: How do they do that?
Gash: They circle around the desert, and dig tunnels. We can use their tunnels to travel underground.
About the Underground Ruins
Gash: They are the remains of ancient ruins. We can use them to avoid the monsters.
Edge: Ruins? Aren't they dangerous?
Gash: Not at all. Only the entrances above ground still have any life left in them.
Gash: That man you're after...Craymen. You said he commands the Black Fleet, right?
Edge: What do you know about them!?
Gash: That fleet has plagued the seekers for a long time. We know they've been very interested in those ruins. If he's the commander of that fleet, I hope you kill him slowly.
About the Empire
Gash: It is a nation built on fear. They've amassed an enormous fleet created with the ancient technologies. At first, they defended us from the monsters, but they soon turned their attention to world domination. Many nations have already fallen to the Empire.
About the Dragon
Gash: In some regions, dragons are called the Messengers of the Gods. But the Empire fears them.
Gash: Dragons have attacked the Empire before. It is believed that the Capital was leveled by a lone dragon long ago.
Okay...so we already know that Craymen is going to be gunning for Edge, and the all-powerful Empire has a compulsive hatred for dragons. The good news just keeps on coming.
About the Ancient Age
Gash: Ancient Age...in the bordering nations, they call it the Age of the Gods. I don't know if I agree with them.
Think about it for a second. The monsters and the weapons of the Empire were all created by the ancient ones. Would any God bring horrors to its people?
About the Ruins
Edge: I was only a guard on the excavation site, so I don't know much about the ruins.
Gash: The Empire underestimates the danger of what they're digging up. They could awaken a great evil that could destroy us all.
Edge: What are you talking about?
Gash: If the ruins reactivate, who knows what horrors will be unleashed upon us. Their power could obliterate a nation.
About the Monsters
Gash: They're all that's left of the Ancient Age. They were scattered throughout the world. They may regroup in the forest, near the ruins.
Edge: Why are they attacking humans?
Gash: Perhaps they were ancient weapons, or maybe our wars angered them.
About the Seekers
Edge: Just who are the seekers?
Gash: Well, you can just call us thieves if you don't mind offending us.
Damn. Is this guy good at holding a grudge, or what?
Edge: I apologize for that incident when we first met. My Captain told me you were thieves.
Gash: It's all right, kid. We're outcasts, I'll admit that. They say the Gods will punish us for disturbing their sacred ruins. That is far from the truth, you know.
Gash: Almost everyone believes that the Ancient Age was the age of the Gods. If that were true, then our own Gods are more frightening than the Empire.
After that lengthy conversation, Edge takes a few paces away, and taking a look over his shoulder, offers a perfect assessment of Gash.
That being said, he knows his stuff, so the two men mount up and proceed to the Garil Desert.
Once there, it isn't long before they're attacked by a Nanyd Swarm. Luckily, Gash continues to prove useful as he offers Edge some advice for beating this new foe. Unfortunately, the queen proves invulnerable to the dragon's lock-on lasers, so a volley would be relatively useless. However, Edge's gun is perfect for this sort of precision work, and with the queen dead, the rest of the swarm scatters.
No rest for the...um...guys riding around the desert on a dragon, eh? The weak point on the Stryder's backs leaves them open to a quick strike from the dragon, and are easily disposed of.
In the center of the desert lies a sunken ship from the Ancient Age, but since it requires a level 6 laser to destroy Edge decides to leave it alone for now. As they proceed further through the desert, they see a strange structure that looks like a bone jutting out of the desert floor, and a moment later, creatures leaping in and out of the sand. Are these the worms Gash was referring to earlier?
Gash: Edge, it's a worm's nest. As long as we don't harm them, they'll leave us alone. Let's stop messing with the worms, and be on our way.
Turning east, they see a strange brown mound on the surface of the desert...pulsating?
Edge: A Lathum? What's that!?
Gash: The most disgusting thing alive...that horrible smell!
Considering the thing looks like a giant, slithering booger, the smell probably *improves* its standing. At any rate, the creature must be dealt with, and Roderick goes into battle mode.
Edge: What!? It's moving! How do we kill something this big?
Gash: You've got to find the weak spot. Shoot until you hit something soft, it'll turn red! Don't give up, Edge!
So, in a nutshell, Gash's strategy is shoot first, shoot more later. I heartily support that. The Lathum ends up essentially being a big, flat pile of goo with a bunch of what appears to be steam vents popping off the top of it. Having no idea where the creature's weak point is, Edge decides to fire a lock-on volley and see what happens.
Great success! A sore red welt appears on the Lathum's skin and Edge knows where to shoot, even while getting boiled alive with puffs of steam.
Nothing in life is easy, however, and the weak spot disappears, re-covered by the Lathum, and Edge must find it once more before delivering the killing blow.
With the Lathum destroyed, a rare Red Worm leaps out of the desert...
and dives through the entrance to the tunnel, opening it wide for the dragon to fly through.
Gash: Edge, look down there.
Edge: That's...the passage?
Gash: You got it. Let's see where it leads.