Part 6: Crossing the Garil Desert (Part 2)After flying through the worm tunnel, Edge and Gash rise back into the daylight and are greeted by another section of the desert. This area is a bit different than the last, as there are several large pools of quicksand dotted here and there across the landscape - thankfully, the fact that Roderick is around means that the quicksand offers no danger to our heroes. However, the worms dotting this area are not so lucky, and Edge sees one of the smaller worms caught in a whirlpool, struggling mightily. With a near-unconscious movement - almost as if it were a reflex - he points out the worm to Roderick, who fires off an Access shot that bumps the worm out of the quicksand and back into the safety of the desert.
With a look of surprise, Gash speaks up.
You should have left it alone.
Edge: It didn't deserve to die like that!
No kidding. It's called compassion, asshat. Sheesh.
It also turns out to have been a good idea, as after the baby is saved a Red Worm leaps out from the desert and opens up another tunnel, in which Edge finds something called a "Mauler". What the heck's a Mauler?
After turning it over a few times in his hands, Edge notices that it appears to be of the same sort of material as his gun. Not only that, but if he holds it just the right way, it looks like it and the gun could even fit together. With a soft *click* the Mauler slides into place, and the next time he fires...
Whoa! The blue bullets his gun originally fired have turned to orange, and there's a lot more of them now. The poor Stryker that was the new gun's guinea pig goes down hard, and Edge turns his attention back to getting them through the desert alive.
Soon Edge sees a spot of green off in the distance, and as they get closer it resolves into a small pool of water with a strange gray structure jutting out of the middle of it. (And a save point too, yay.)
Gash: Yeah...but the entrance to the waterway is blocked by the ruin.
Gash: These ruins are linked together like a nervous system. We've got to find the ruin that activates this one.
Luckily, a quick turn towards the north reveals the ruin's flashing mate, and a single shot from Roderick lays it to waste.
From the south, it sounded like...
Yep - the ruin at the oasis is gone, the water drained, and a new path opened. Back underground we go.
The tunnel is unremarkable, and our heroes return to open air and more desert. However, living conditions here must be different than in the other parts of the desert, as the dragonriders are ambushed by a pack of Stryders accompanied by a Nanyd Swarm. It is an unlikely hunting group, and Edge wonders briefly what symbiotic benefits the two types of creatures bring each other before shaking himself out of his reverie and remembering that he's being attacked.
During the procession through the desert, Edge had felt Roderick getting ever stronger, and a little while ago he noticed that the dragon had picked up yet another new ability called Holy Sphere (although he had no idea exactly *how* he knew that). Regardless, Edge figured that since spheres were round, this ability might be a chance to attack all his enemies evenly - so he calls upon Roderick to perform this attack and sits back to see what will happen.
Armed with the knowledge that Holy Sphere kicks fucking ass, the three of them continue through the desert, reaching a dead end with a sand-covered ruin flanked by two more of the strange white bone-like structures, although these seem somehow different.
Heedless of the caution, Edge directs Roderick to access the structures - the consequences of activating these ruins (you know, the ones Gash referred to earlier as having the power to destroy the world) be damned!
Phew! The small twister does nothing more harmful than start to blow the sand away from the ruin's entrance. As the sand disappears and the tornado dies down, Gash continues talking.
Gash: If we can get past these ruins, we're out of the desert. All we have left to do is fly underground.
Just take it easy in there, okay?
Edge isn't quite sure what he means, but once again the lack of options drives him onward.
This must be his first time spelunking. A moment later, something pops out of the darkness in front of them.
"Gigralyph"? What's that? Let's see what the in-game encyclopedia says:
Gigralyphs are intelligent creatures that can combine with their kin, the Gigra. Once combined, the Gigralyph can control the physical properties of its hulking cousin. Alone and unprovoked, Gigralyphs are peaceful.
Oh, okay. So as long as we don't piss it off and no Gigra show up, we're good. While we've been doing this, Gash has continued talking again.
Gash: Funny...in ruins this size, you'd expect nastier monsters...
Do you hear me complaining?
Gash: ...Oh, no matter. Just kill it, so we can go.
Okay, sure, that's fine. Wait a second: "Alone and unprovoked, Gigralyphs are peaceful." OH SHIT NO STOP!
Fuck. To make matters worse, Edge's gun doesn't seem to be doing any actual damage to the Gigralyph, and the longer this thing stays alive, the better the chance that a Gigra will show up. What's the encylopedia say about those things, anyway?
Gigra are subterranean hulks that hibernate until summoned by a Gigralyph. When they combine, they are able to change shape in order to seek food.
So, if anything starts coming up from underground before the Gigralyph goes down, we're basically hosed. Good to know.
GASH YOU FUCKING DUMBASS!!!
Wait, what the heck? It didn't look like that a second ago! Not only is this thing freaking huge, it can change shape, too?
Well, what's done is done - nothing left to do now but fight it. The combined Gigra pair has assumed its "mobile form", otherwise known as "Hunter Gigra" (The Gigra assume this shape when they stalk their victims. They attack with missile weapons, and will relentlessly pursue a potential meal.), and luckily for Edge, there's a safe zone directly behind it...
and UNluckily for Edge, the only weak point is underneath its chin in the red zone directly in front of it. Still, with a solid strategy of charging up the dragon's gauges in the safe zone and only staying in the red zone long enough to unload into the weak point, the Gigra is taking the worst of it.
Until, of course, it morphs again, this time to the "Fighter Gigra" - When a Gigra feels that it has met a formidable opponent, it assumes this form. It has offensive and defensive capabilities. The Gigra retain this form throughout mating season. Wait a sec - "mating season"??? So if we lose to this thing, it's going to try to mate with us? Ick.
Determined to keep his anal virginity intact, Edge charges up Roderick's gauges again and swings back around to the front where the creature is still weak. He pulls out his gun, steadies his aim...
And the Gigra blocks???? !! Not only that, but its "arms" are immune to lock-on lasers, meaning that using the gun to try to blow through its defenses would take far too long. Thinking back, Edge remembers what he did the last time he needed to hit a lot of targets with a lot of damage at once.
Eat Holy Sphere, motherfucker!
As an added bonus, after the explosion, the Gigra's left arm hangs uselessly by its side, and Edge knows that he must disable the other arm as well to be able to hit the weak spot. Swinging around to the creature's right, Edge unloads a volley and disables the other arm before going back to working the weak spot again.
Which causes the Gigra to morph for a *third* time. Great.
This time, it's in "Swift Gigra" form - If a Gigra loses a battle, it morphs into a swift flying creature in a desperate attempt to escape. If Gigras fight each other, the loser will be killed unless it leaves the area. - and just like the encyclopedia says, it's getting desperate. Its defenses are wide open and the weak spot even more exposed...
but it's also pulling out its most powerful attacks and really putting the hurt on poor Roderick. Still, Edge is managing to deal out more damage than he's taking...
and the dying Gigra crashes to the sand, burying itself in the process. Gash exclaims, "Now we can get out of this place!", but before they can go any further...
Whoa, "type select"? What's that?
But suddenly, in the midst of all this awesomeness, a great rumbling fills the cave, alarming both Edge and Gash:
Edge: What is going on!? ...Gash! Look there!!
Oh, you're kidding.
What was that it said a minute ago about "the loser will be killed unless it leaves the area"?
Edge: Is that thing invulnerable!?
Whether it is or not, it doesn't look like Edge will get a chance to find out, as the Gigra readies its deadliest-looking Rain of Spears yet. This doesn't look good at all...when a golden light flashes around our heroes and Roderick begins changing shape again.
In Roderick's new, stubby form, the spears the Gigra shoots explode harmlessly against an invisible shield - but even then, the dragon isn't done.
This time, assuming a long, sleek, and lethal-looking form, he charges up a powerful-looking bolt of lightning and unleashes it on the monster.
The Gigra finally disposed of, Roderick changes back to his normal form, and with the battle over, Gash begins to wonder out loud about his friend's deadly companion.
Gash: Amazing...it morphs into different types of dragons! This must be the one...
Gash: Oh, never mind...let's just get out of here, okay? The exit is just ahead.
True to his word, once out of the ruins they are clear of the desert, and Gash prepares to say goodbye.
Thanks to you, I'll live a little longer. You see, seekers don't take chances. Anyone who doesn't show up on time is presumed dead.
Gash turns to leave, then thinks better of it.
Gash: I've got something for you, kid.
Take this and go east. You should see a caravan there. Show that, and they'll help you out...as long as they don't find out about your dragon.
That was one wild ride, and I'll always consider you my friend. You can count on me, if you need anything.
Hugs and hand pounds, Gash. We'll see you around.