Part 6: Dr. Luveno
Chapter 6: Dr. Luveno
On our way back out, Odin leant against a wall and it slid away, revealing a staircase leading further down into the caves. We had plenty of time before the next shuttle left for Palma, and I wasn't eager to go back out into the desert right away, so we decided to explore.
Noah had never seen this part of the cave before, and as we explored it he started to get a little agitated. At first I thought it was because he'd sensed some kind of danger down here with his extraordinary mental powers, but it turned out it was his lunch time and he'd left all his food back in his room. I offered him a burger. He ate it, but only after picking the meat apart from the bun so he could eat them separately.
When we saw the dragon, I wished I'd assumed he was sensing danger and decided to turn back. It was too late for that now, though; it had us cornered, and we had to stand and fight.
(Video / Backup)
Our weapons barely scratched its scaly hide; only our magic and Odin's gun did significant damage. Our shields and armour did little to protect us from its fiery breath, and Myau couldn't heal us as fast as the thing was hurting us. Noah caught the worst of its attacks; by the time the beast finally fell, his charred body was almost unrecognisable.
The dragon had been guarding a large cache of gold and jewels, but right now we had more important things to worry about than collecting treasure. Odin picked up Noah's body, slung him over his shoulder and we marched back to Paseo as fast as we could, blisters be damned.
The priest wasn't willing to resurrect Noah for free, but he was happy to do it in exchange for a small "donation". Damn it all, we were flat broke. I explained to the priest that we couldn't afford his price, and begged him to do it for free.
He was very kind and understanding...
... and then made a great show of botching the resurrection. Thanks for nothing, asshole.
After a quick trip back to the caves to retrieve the dragon's treasure, the skin on my face and arms was blistering and peeling off from sunburn and I was finally able to get Noah resurrected.
This time, everything went smoothly; the wounds vanished from Noah's body and he stood up, good as new. What a surprise. I wanted to punch that priest right in his smug old money-grubbing face, but I was too glad to have our new ally back to make trouble. Instead, I just muttered a thank-you and walked out.
The shuttle trip back to Palma was as awe-inspiring as ever. I didn't think I'd ever get tired of space travel. Noah seemed excited by it too, and he kept pointing out constellations to me throughout the trip. I didn't really mind; at least it distracted me from the kid behind me kicking my seat for the whole flight.
Noah didn't seem to bear any grudge against us for getting him burned alive by a horrible reptilian monster, and was still happy to follow us around and show us the passage to Gothic Forest (although I noticed he carefully avoided stepping on every crack in the pavement along the way). It took all our combined strength to slide the manhole cover aside, revealing a ladder leading deep underground.
After you'd been in enough caves, dungeons and underground passages, they all started to look alike. This one was at least straightforward enough: the monsters in it were weak and the only side passage led to a tiny room with a rather unfriendly young man in it.
We emerged in the town of Gothic. It had clearly once been a very beautiful village, but since the monsters had isolated it from the rest of Palma it was gradually falling into ruin.
Beggars accosted us in the streets almost as soon as we entered town. When they realised we had fresh food and drink to spare, they were very willing to give me information.
Odin gave me a knowing look; we'd found Medusa's new home. We decided to follow the beggar's advice for now and stay away, since we didn't have any reason to believe that a second meeting would turn out any better than the first.
I doubted that Dr. Luveno was really insane. Lassic used a lot of convenient excuses to lock up dissidents, and insanity was one of his favourites. We left Gothic and set off to the south, heading for Triada.
The Gothic Forest was filled with giant fire-breathing serpents. They were fast and strong, but compared to the dragon we'd already killed they were pushovers.
Our walk to Triada was short and uneventful (apart from the aforementioned giant fire-breathing serpents). A robot cop blocked our path near the entrance, but I showed it my roadpass and it stepped aside.
We explored the prison with the aid of our dungeon key. When we saw a giant spider in one of the cells Odin and I immediately drew our weapons, but Noah motioned for us to stop. He stared into the spider's eyes for a few minutes, both him and the spider standing completely motionless the whole time. Eventually he waved goodbye to the spider and started to walk away.
"What was that all about?", I asked.
"We had a bit of a talk," Noah said matter-of-factly. "That spider knew a lot of really interesting stuff about chemistry. I used to study chemistry in Paseo before I learned magic, but he knew even more than I did. We should try talking to monsters more often; I bet they know all kinds of interesting stuff."
I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that. "Noah, you never cease to surprise me. Let's get going; we still need to find Dr. Luveno."
One of the human prisoners used to design robots before he was locked up here. He told me about his greatest work, Hapsby, which he'd designed with the cooperation of Dr. Luveno. When Lassic's cops came for them both, Hapsby was just thrown away. It seemed like a cruel thing to do to an intelligent being, even if it was just a robot, but I'd have expected nothing better from Lassic.
When we finally found Dr. Luveno, he was less than eager to help us. With that robot cop guarding the entrance, I couldn't blame him. All the same, I couldn't afford to give up -- if we wanted to go places Lassic didn't want us to go, we'd need our own spaceship, and for that we needed Dr. Luveno's help.
"Doctor Luveno," I said in the gentlest voice I could manage, "I know you'd be taking a risk by helping us. I know that when you became a scientist you probably just wanted to find ways to make people's lives easier and let them do new things they couldn't do before. But right now Lassic is leading this world to ruin, and someone has to stop him. I've seen how he deals with people who oppose him. He won't be content to keep you in prison forever. He wants you dead, and if he knew what I was trying to do he'd want me dead too. Maybe he already does. Please, for both our sakes, come with me."
As long as this was the kind of 'doing as I say' that involved running around the world to find parts for his machines and didn't involve taking off my clothes, I was fine with that.
Then, just like that, Dr. Luveno slipped right past us and ran off. Maybe he was insane after all. We tried to catch up with him, but he was fast for an old man. I was surprised not to find his bloody corpse lying at the entrance when we went back past the robot cop.
I was even more surprised to find that he'd made it safely back to Gothic on his own. Apparently, the standoffish young fellow we'd met on our way to Gothic was Luveno's assistant.
The news that Dr. Luveno was free made him considerably less surly. He wasted no time collecting his meagre possessions and heading up to Gothic.
His people skills didn't improve any, though.
It was only fair to repay Dr. Luveno for the work and materials he was putting into this project and the risk he was taking, and 1200 mesetas for a spaceship was a bargain. If I felt uncomfortable taking charity from friends, I felt even more so taking it from a stranger. I was more than happy to hand over the money he asked for.
We all agreed that while Dr. Luveno built our spaceship for us, we'd go kill some time and try to make some money around Camineet. It was nice to have a break for once; hopefully this time it wouldn't be ruined by mind-raping nightmare demons.