The Let's Play Archive

Septerra Core

by ToxicFrog

Part 20: Still Alive

20: Still Alive

Voice: Wake up, Maya...
Where am I?
Voice: Wake up, Maya. You have much to do...

Not Mom, unless there's something Grubb isn't telling us.

What happened? The Lens Platforms must have crashed here. But where are we?

We'd best run and find out, but first, we should do something about that chunk of precious gemstone bigger than Maya's head.

That will come in handy later.

No sooner has Team Protagonist left the crash site than Team Utter Bastards arrives.

We should recognize this guy.  It's Connor. We saw his hologram on Shell 5.  He gestures and his minions scurry off to search the area.

Back on the world map, we can head south to the swamps, or east to the mountains, but the most interesting is clearly north, to Scumm Town.

...wrong SCUMM.

There we go. First stop: the Shipping Docks.

That white thing on the floor?

It's a drill.

Walking down the hall, we find a guard at the door to the docks themselves.

Excuse me, but I need to get past.
Sorry, no one enters the docks without an official manifest.

And at the end of the hall, the shipping manager.

[talk] What's all the security for?
Pirates are collecting tribute for Connor. Mostly tattooed slave girls.
[talk] How's business?
Not too good, actually. With Jinam and Ankara gone, the pirates got no-one to steal from, and that means no contraband to ship.
[Connor] Tell me about this pirate leader...
Connor? Strongest pirate around...he never leaves his island base, and some say he squanders his fortune in the pursuit of Kyra's Mirror.
What's that?
An ancient mirror that's supposed to have magical properties.

He doesn't do the air quotes with his fingers, but you can hear the sarcasm clicking into place around the words "magical properties".

We can examine the clipboard behind him:

Looks like a shipping manifest.
Hey! Official business only. Someone would have to steal this right out from under my don't even think about it.

We are totally going to steal that from him later. For now, though, we will explore the other half of Scumm Town - the Barter Mall.

First stop is the weapon store. New core engines for Maya and Grubb, and a new ability module for Maya. The Shrapnel module has a wider blast radius than the normal Grenade, but doesn't hit as hard.

Maya? Somebody was lookin' for you.
Where are they now?
They went to look on the other side of the mountains.
[talk] Is it possible to send a message off shell?
No way. We're too close to the Core for that kind of stuff. And it's even worse now. The amount of energy coming off the Core has almost doubled!
That doesn't sound good.
[Connor] Who is this Connor I hear about?
Leader of the largest gang. He's been searching all his life for an ancient artifact called Kyra's Mirror. Rumor says he has part of it, but needs more.

Welcome to Scumm Town.
[Connor] The pirates must be ecstatic that Jinam and Ankara are gone.
Well, those two countries were the only thing holdin' 'em back...Who knows what they're gonna do now?

The other weapon store sells sharp things. New sword for Corgan, new knives for Badu.

We found big slabs of Core material, fell from the sky. We thought we wouldn't get anymore after the Shell 5 war, and now the mother lode comes falling on our head!
[talk] What kind of ships fly from this port?
Shipments of stuff we steal from Shell 5.

I love how laid-back they are about how the entire shell economy is based on fencing stolen goods.

[Connor] Who is this Connor I hear about?
Connor? Don't go messin' with him girl, he's bad news.
[The Chosen] Did you see the battle in the skies?
Who didn't? You know big hunks of Corite just fell from the sky? That'll keep Connor rollin' in the dough for awhile...

Behind her is the tattoo parlour and general store. In addition to the usual healing items and augments, you can buy wrenches, ability modules for Grubb and Araym, and fresh, raw meat.

I buy two. Key items are always important, and it just looks so delicious.

What kind of place is this?
Tattoo parlor, want one?
[talk] What kind of tattoos do you do?
I do most of the working girls that come through here. They like full body Kyra.
[talk] Do you use needles?
What else? Want to try it out?
Uh...I think not...
[Slaves] I heard about slave girls with full body tattoos used as tribute to the pirates.
Connor's obsessed with Kyra, wants all of his girls to be made up like her. I just did one of them yesterday, she couldn't stand the pain.
It's that bad?
Yeah. But I can do painless temporary ones if I have the right ink. I make it from the blood of swamp Helgak. Usually get the blood out with leeches after putting the Helgak to sleep.
[Connor] Tell me about this Connor.
He's a funny one. Obsessed with Kyra the love goddess. He has all of his women made up like her. Some say he's searching for the legendary Kyra's Mirror, the one she used to make the stars.

Infodump ahoy. Given that we know how to make temporary tattoos now, anyone want to bet that we'll be getting someone tattooed before the end of the shell?

Connor. Leader of the biggest pirate gang on the Shell.
[talk] What kind of place is Shell 6?
Lots of mountains and swamps. There's creatures in the swamps that can eat a man whole, not to mention the leeches.
[The Chosen] Have you seen any Chosen ships?
Everyone's still talkin' about the recent battle. Something crashed outside of town.
The Lens platforms.
[Connor] Who is this Connor I hear about?
Pirate gang leader. Runs the show from his island base. To get inside the base, you gotta fly in, 'cause the docking bay is under the water.
Pirates like to protect their hoard.

Wait...the docking bay is you have to fly in?

The armour store sells a variety of upgrades - nothing huge, but every point of speed or armour helps. And with that cleaned out, there's nothing left for us in Scumm Town.

Yong-Sik told us that the group looking for us went over the mountains, so that's our next destination.

Outta my way.
Too bad, no-one passes without paying the toll...
And just what is that?
Come here and we'll show you!

Two options here: "Fight" or "Run". We all know what the right answer is.

Let's go!
Uh - oh...

It really does not go at all well for these guys.

Wayne is the first to fall, as Thanatos, the spirit of Death itself, comes to claim his soul.

By surrounding him with zombies.

Which explode.

We've actually had that summon (Resurrect + Summon) available for a while, but this is the first time I've used it.

Jake wisely cloaks up.

Not pictured: several turns of failing to hit him at all.

With these jokers out of the way, we can explore the pirate base. The ramp gives us access to north and south exits, but we'll explore those areas in due time - for now, we want to head east, following the group Yong-Sik said was looking for us.

Guarding the exit is this guy.

His special power? He is covered in bees. Not that it helps him.

Welcome to the west half of Shell Six.

To the northwest is Connor's island stronghold, but we can't reach it from the shore.

And to the southwest - near an inexplicably perpetual waterfall (shouldn't the lake run dry? Are there pipes running through the shell or something?) - is the town of Pranno.

You look like a pirate, girl. Stay away.

Complete with asshole NPCs.

Maya? Some people were lookin' for ya...

God forbid you tell us where they are.

[The Chosen] Have you seen any Chosen Ships?
Not since the battle in the sky...Connor came around lookin' for stuff that had fallen from the ships, but he's gone now.
[Connor] Who is this Connor I hear about?
He's the leader of the largest pirate gang. All others pay tribute to him.

Seems like forever.
[talk] This place is pretty isolated, isn't it?
We like it that way, keeps the riff raff out.
[The Chosen] Did you see the battle?
In the sky? Oh yeah. Them strange platforms fell in flames.
Were there any survivors?
I saw some ships get out of the blast.
[Connor] Who is this Connor I hear about?
He's been collecting the Corite that fell out of the sky. Now he's gonna be rich enough to form his own army with that!
[Helgak] Do you know of a Helgak that has blood used for ink?
Oh yeah. They used to hunt 'em by trickin' them into eating a plant that has a powerful sleeping drug in it.
Sleep plant?
You can find it in the swamp.

If you can find sleep plant in the swamp, what's this plant behind you, eh?

It looks like a healing herb.

Oh well. I'm sure it'll be useful later.

There'a also a bird.

Finally, there's a bar, and inside...

We barely survived the crash of the Lens Platforms...
I shouldn't have deserted you...I wanted to save Doskias because I believed he could change. Now I know that he can't be saved from himself. I'm sorry.
She'll just do it again, Maya. She endangers the entire group!
I saw that the lenses were going to crash here, but I couldn't reach you in time. I did convince the ship captain to bring us all here, to look for you.
We have a ship?
No, he refused to stay on shell six. He was afraid of the pirates.
How are we going to get off this stink-shell?
I know a local pirate named Lobo...fought with him in the war. He has a ship.
Yeah, but can we trust him?
I don't trust any pirate!
He's an honourable sort. I think he'll help us if I talk to him.
It sounds like our best bet...

And with that, the group's back together. I swap in Araym and Selina - Araym because we need him to talk to his pirate friend, and Selina because we haven't seen her in a while.

I take a moment to gear everyone up. In particular, Araym gets his new Blades. On the way out, I harvest dialogue from everyone in town.

This is the kind of place I ran to after I left Jinam.
We get lots of refugees, usually when there's a major battle with the pirates.

This place is ripe for a pirate raid...
Bite yer tongue, boy!
Small town people are pathetic.
Stuck up city folk are pathetic.

There's not much we haven't seen.

On the way back, Araym tests out his new toys, with satisfactory results (100 damage for a tier 1 ability? Yes please.)

Selina also has a new ability, Kiss of Death. It does what it says on the tin.

Our destination: Scumm Town!

Sooner or later, we will need that manifest. Might as well get it sooner. Perhaps Selina's rapier wit and sparkling tact can get it for us.

[talk] Is that a shipping Manifest?
Yeah, you need one to get into the docks.
Give it to me, or eat of your own flesh!
Please, you'd have to steal it from me!

Screw it, let's just steal the damn thing.

[talk] What's that?
This? It's a shipping Manifest. Papers that you need to get into the Docks.
Hey, what was that?!

I dunno, must have been the wind...

It's hard to capture in screenshots, but Araym points offscreen, the manager turns to look, and Araym darts past him and grabs the manifest. I can't believe that worked.

[talk] Lose something?
I can't seem to find my shipping manifest...

We can even taunt him about it afterwards and he doesn't make the connection.

Everything looks to be in order, you may pass.
It's locked.

Apparently just having a manifest isn't enough to get us into the hangar. So let's ignore this for now and visit Scumm Town proper. Having Selina and Araym in the party now means some different dialogue:

Don't I know you?
Hope not. I don't want to be recognized, if you know what I mean.

Is Connor still the old bastard I know?
You've had dealings with him?
A few.
A Pirate town? I've heard of this place.
You're Chosen, aren't ya? How come you don't have any facial tattoos?
That's a sign of Lordship. I am - was - a General, not a Lord.
Ah look, if you want a tattoo, you know, there's a place in town you can get one.

Talking to the tattooist has also given us a new subject to ask about.

Have you heard of a Helgak with blood that's used for ink?
Sure, lives in the swamp...They love to eat the egg of the Mountain Helgak.

Where can a guy get a tattoo around here?
Uh, just look in the shops.
Is it possible to book passage off this shell?
This ain't no vacation spot.

Well, yes, that's why we want to leave!

Do the pirates still deal in slave girls?
You bet.
That's horrible.
Uh...oh yeah...That's HORRIBLE.
The pirates that live they work together?
Lord no! They're always fightin'. Connor, the main group leader, demands tribute from the others. Usually in the form of young women...

I had a tattoo on my right arm.
What was it?
You don't wanna know!
The light angel Kyra's tattoos guided the flow of her magical power. For this reason, each of the Chosen Lords has a special pattern tattooed on his face to guide their Core energy.
Pretty cool.

This has netted us some mythology that I didn't know, but we're no closer to finding Lobo. There's still three areas we haven't explored - north and south of the pirate base, and the swamps - so let's check those.

Hmm. That looks a lot like a clandestine landing pad.

The swamp looks about as you'd expect - mud, plants, giant killer beetles.

Oh, and crabs. Can't forget the crabs.

This part of the swamp is small and contains nothing of interest, so I rush through it... the landing pad.

That looks a lot like a Jinam fast attack ship.

And that's definitely a Jinam combat cyborg.

Araym? That you, buddy?
One and the same, tin boy.
Never thought I'd see a friendly face on this shell again.
This is your friend? Isn't he a Jinam Combat Cyborg?
Used to be, when we fought in the war. But Lobo's ship crashed and he was salvaged by a mechanic here on Shell 6. Fixed his brain so he had free thought.
I ended up being a pirate, like my new father, but eventually he died.
Aye, Connor drove the old man to death with his gangs.
Yeah, well, that bastard Connor is still gunnin' for ME.
What did you do this time?
Refused to pay him tribute. So he took my crew captive.
We need help getting off shell, it's urgent.
Well, I ain't goin' nowhere without my crew.
Where are they held?
In Connor's base. He's the biggest pirate leader, yeah, has a whole island for a fortress. Only way in is through a docking bay under water.

Meet Lobo. He kicks ass. He also has a lot of conversation topics, so hang on to your eyeballs.

[talk] Can't you fly us off shell?
Look, I'm not leaving as long as that bastard Connor has my crew.
There's no way to get into his base?
Short of stowing away on a ship? I doubt it.
[Slave Girls] Connor accepts tattooed slave girls for tribute?
Yeah, he's obsessed with Kyra and her tattoos.
I'll bet I could pass for a slave girl. It could get me into his base to rescue your crew.
If you can find a disguise, come back here and I'll help you get into a ship headed for Connor's island base.

We have a plan! But to pull it off we'll probably need tattoos.

Do you know anything about a helgak with blood that can be used for temporary tattoo ink?
Yeah, they live in the swamp. It's well known they consider mountain helgak eggs a delicacy.

I think we've heard that before, but it's nice to have it confirmed.

[Lobo] How did you end up here?
Shot down during the Resource wars. A man befriended me and fixed me up. He took the Jinam Restraining Chip out of my brain, and let me have free thought again. I didn't like what Jinam did to me, so I decided I would become a pirate, and work against them.
[talk] So Connor's on yer ass, huh?
He killed my father.
Your father?
The man who found me and repaired me when I crashed here, a decade ago.
[talk] What parts of you are organic?
My brain.
Our Chosen soldiers are like robots, but they are grown from organic material. They cannot disobey an order.
I was like that, before my restraining chip was removed.
[Connor] You don't pay tribute to Connor?
Never. Every petty gang on the shell pays him, but not me. I'd rather stand up and fight than give him what isn't his. He takes most tribute in the form of slave girls. And I don't deal in slavery.

In short: Lobo will fly us anywhere, but he needs his crew, held captive by Connor. To rescue them we'll need to infiltrate his island fortress by disguising Maya as a slave, which means we need to get tattoos for her made from leech-extracted swamp helgak blood. Which means we need leeches, among other things.

Next update: fun with annelids!