Part 8: Space Calamari - It's What's For DinnerSpace Calamari - It's What's For Dinner
When we last left our heroine, she bet that she could beat a kung fu master in a fight to the death. However, because the game didn't actually want to initialize the combat engine (unlike a later, similar encounter) she got kicked in the head and died. Then she let some cannibals eat her because she's, uh, not very smart - but she got a magic intestine string that deals unresistable damage whenever she gets stabbed.
You know what? Let's just leave it at that.
We're going to come back to the cannibals later for a sidequest so I can level our...questionably styled Castoff before we leave Sagus Cliffs forever. In the meantime, let's look at this spooky corpse.
: You carefully move the shroud to the side.
: Touch the tattoo.
This tattoo is so spooky we take mental damage!
: Leave the corpse alone.
Time to run back to that kung fu dude and kick his ass! This is the Underbelly. We'll be back.
This sucker is gonna get the beating of his life! I even activate Hedge Magic to auto-win the speed contest!
: I'm feeling better. Do you want to duel again?
: "The woman who cannot die wants to fight to the death," he says, chuckling again. "When I am tired of life, I will challenge you," he says. "But that time has not yet come."
If we beat the guy the first time we get a permanent +1 to our speed pool. My practice run did this. My practice castoff was a lot more optimized for combat than Lady Castoff here, but we will talk about that when we get here.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
Aiden: Oh shit! She's not dead! Well, I don't want to die, so take this crappy bribe and go away.
That was disappointing. Anyway, the thread consensus was to free the squid. It turns out that if you actually fix the clock you can only free and kill the squid, so we're going to do that. Sorry squid!
The squid is not a fight I want to do with three people, so we're going to pick up this guy who is the only glaive NPC who can join our party. He is the number one reason not to pick a nano with scan thoughts, but we're not recruiting him for his intelligence (2), we're recruiting him for his skill with heavy weapons. Look, he's not the literal child written by Patrick Rothfuss, OK?
Make the hurting stop.
: How did you end up crashing the airship?
: "I'm glad you asked!" This is somewhat of an understatement. He looks ecstatic.
: "I was climbing up the cliffs to Caravanserai to see how impossible it was when I saw a star falling toward the Reef." He raises an earnest finger. "I knew, right then, that finding that star was my destiny."
: He runs his hands through his curls. "But what was I going to do? Climb down? Boring. Already did it the other way. Walk? Walk? Worse. Far worse. No fun at all."
You are extremely fortunate that you are the only character capable of wielding futuristic heavy weaponry, because listening to your prattling actively hurts.
: You're in luck. That 'falling star' was me.
: Why should I let you join me?
: Yes, I want you to join me.
: Of course you do! And I'm ready! I'm always ready!
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: It's me, that wacky Erritis! I crashed this airship, and now I'm going to stand around like some kind of paste-loving moron.
: Uh, hi.
: Ohmygod I wanna have adventure I was looking for the falling star but now I am sad haha I am so whimsical and fun don't you like me?
: That was me, yes.
: LEMME JOIN PARTY WANNA JOIN PARTY
: You have a mental age of twelve...you know what, you have a large sword, and I don't mean that as an innuendo. Sure, I can always use more idiots willing to do violence on my behalf.
: YAY ADVENTURE.
I'm sure bringing him along on our adventure to...fix a blue crystal box isn't a terrible idea.
Rest assured, I'm going to have a final vote on the party before we leave the city. We have three more members to meet.
: I don't understand how all you Callisteges could even notice in that crowd of...you.
: A few thousand of eyes can't help but notice you.
Alright. Let's free this squid.
We're not selling out the lazy idiot, we're going to free the squid!
: I have some questions about your nychthemeron.
: What is a nychthemeron anyway?
: Wait. You called the creature a "he". Is it male?
I really hope this is scientific curiosity, lady.
: How did you capture the creature?
: "I suppose you could blame luck," he says. "Little early to call it 'good' or 'bad', though." His eyes seek the sky as he begins his story.
I...don't actually know what that means. Is that an eye roll? Is he turning his head to the heavens? Fuck it.
: "I was working on...well, call it a trap, in a valley through some nameless ruin. Canadu was off hunting for dinner, and I work in a daze. Always do, when I'm concentrating." A smile flits across his face.
: "Near sunset, the trap was still in pieces, and I heard Canadu roaring my name. I turned just in time to see our guest bearing down on me."
: How did you get the creature into the city?
Remember, this is the same city where you can just...start a riot to free a traitor and no one cares.
: What do you plan on doing with the nychthemeron when you're done showing it off?
: I want to ask about something else.
: I'm looking for someone who can repair a complicated device.
: I want to ask you about something else.
Bringing him back is probably not a good idea.
: I want to see the creature up close.
: [Persuasion] "That's too much. I'm the only one in line! How about 10 shins?"
Remember how we all voted to give our castoff a silver tongue?
Anyway we go through and pay the 25 shins.
Anyway, we can go up to the cage and do our thing!
: You approach the cage cautiously. The monster within looks like a fungal blob mated with a muscular icthyoid. Its multiple tentacles terminate in syringes, needles, and injectors. This mass sits atop - and is integrated with - a floating orb of some type. It seems to be both mechanical and biological, with one system flowing smoothly into the next, a creation from some mad nightmare.
It's right there. In the cage. We can see it. Stop it!
Anyway it was stated earlier that these guys only talk at night, so I go right to the fun part.
: [Quick Fingers, Lore: Machinery] Affix Beleazar's device to the panel.
We literally cannot fail this because we still have Hedge Magic up.
: I didn't see what happened.
: That's right, I didn't see anything.
...were you idiots really going to try to trap the Changing God with that thing?
: Nothing? You've just discovered a weakness in the cage. That's good news, if you believe in knowledge.
: "It's not so bad as all that, Canadu. At least we've learned something. Exposed a weakness, yes? Even if it's not quite the way we wanted to find out, perhaps we owe something of gratitude."
: He laughs. "But maybe that gratitude comes with time. Right now... right now, I'm furious."
: The two of them begin packing their gear, wordlessly and efficiently. El-jinto weighs the coin purse and shakes his head when Canadu looks at him.
: As the two pass you, Canadu looks like he's about to add something. He thinks better of it, laughs to himself, and spits at your feet as they pass by.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hey, what is that squid thing?
: Oh we caught it trying to murder me. I decided, you know, I was building this cool cage to trap a god, why not try it on a robot flying squid with integrated plasma cannons? Then we thought, hey, let's bring this to the city and show it off to finance our next expedition.
: That's...an idea. Can I see it? My sexy half-bald haircut says you'll take 10 shims.
: Ha ha no, you pay full price.
: Here you go. Puts teleporter on squid cage. These stupid motherfuckers have this coming.
: Hey, where'd our squid go? What did you do to the squid?
: I didn't see what happened. I was, um...remembering my favorite Beatles songs! Yes!
: Uh huh. Do you think I'm stupid? Now that squid is going to plasma cannon everyone to death!
: Hey, look on the bright side, you know your cage is a shoddily constructed piece of trash!
: This makes me very angry. Now we'll never be able to trap the Changing God!
: Fuck you and your stupid haircut!
Anyway, it's time for a special segment of "how stupid are these guys?"
How not to make money in the Ninth World
So these guys captured this squid-bot. Great! One of the squid-bots special properties is that it's a murderous plasma-cannon wielding death machine during the day while being a dispenser of wisdom during the night. Where do these idiots take it? To the one city in the Ninth World where it is perpetually daytime and it will forever be plasma cannoning. Ok. Why do they do this? Are they going to sell it to the Order of Truth, who might actually know how to contain it or flip it permanently to nice mode or something? No, these idiots are going to put it in the town square and charge people money to see it. Do they have a tent or something to prevent people from gawking at it for free? No.
To compound the idiocy they are planning to go up against a god, and the only god we know has a personal space station and an army of loyal robots.
These two might actually be the least intelligent characters in the game.
Whatever. Let's go fight a squid robot.
I grab this because I can sell it for money but also it's a speed based weapon. I then forget to equip it. Oh well.
: Attack the nychthemeron.
Look, if we leave it alone it's just gonna plasma cannon some kids, and the government will decide dealing with it is "too hard." Start combat!
Tybir goes first. His job is to debuff the critter. He has an attack and spell resistance debuff I want to keep up at all times because this thing hurts. Here he's feinting to increase future damage.
Erritis here is a fighter in a Monte Cook game, and thus can only meaningfully contribute autoattacks.
Squiddy blasts the squad back. The one thing you absolutely do not want to do is use any kind of provoke ability, because then it chains all the plasma shots into one character and they go down hard.
Shake that probability, girrrrrrrl! In all seriousness Callistege has a free teleport every round, which you want to use before having her attack because it powers up her spells and makes her harder to kill. Callistege is the game's nuker mage, second in damage output only to a Castoff Nano with the Breathes Shadow focus.
The yellow blur in the corner there is Callistege post-teleport. She just hit squiddy with an evasion and movement debuff, which is great because all our other characters are hitting against evasion.
This continues for a few rounds. Our castoff is low on speed, so she throws a grenade, whiffs a 100% hide chance by being instantly spotted, and then autoattacks for pathetic damage.
Rest in peace, squid. For the record, the alternate ending to this quest is to fuck up the clock to set eternal night and then you can stuff the squid into the labyrinth in your head. Really.
Might as well go back to that shifty priest guy and get our reward.
: I have the nychthemeron's brain.
The asshole gives us 20 shins. We spent 25 paying the worst zookeepers ever.
The Psychic Guard lets us carry more cyphers, an ability you will never care about because you have four party members who can all carry them before you seriously have to deal with cypher sickness.
Whatever. Our guys are tired from getting shot with plasma cannons, so I take a nap at the Cult of the Changing God.
To close out the update we're going to talk to our friend Callistege. She's been with us for all of two days, sadly making her our oldest friend.
: Can you tell me about Qorro?
: He's a knave and a blaggard and clever when it comes to numenera. Nothing close to myself, of course.
: "Where we are right now..." She takes a quick look around, as if sizing up your surroundings. "He's tried to kill us, hasn't he?" She shakes her head.
: What can you tell me about the Cult of the Changing God?
: Can you tell me about the Order of Truth?
: Can you tell me about the Dendra O'Hur?
: What's your story?
: What is it you hope to accomplish by traveling with me?
: So direct! I shan't be coy either, then. Your sire, the Changing God, was a nano of surpassing ability. Your search for answers is likely to cross his trail at multiple points. He must have researched the datasphere at some point, and I hope to study his work to address my own particular...situation.
: She waves her hands across her body. "I am what you might imprecisely call a nascent, cross-dimensional hivemind. What I must decide now is whether to continue this experiment."
: "My sisters, you see - they are a blessing and a curse. One moment." She addresses them. "Hush, you know it's true. I've thought it, so therefore you've thought it. We have no secrets from one another."
: She smiles thinly. "You see? Even in my thoughts we are not alone. We seek - let us call it closure of some sort. Of our association, or of our individuality."
I'm not going to lie, this is one of the few ideas from the game I find legitimately intriguing, and it's a clear analogy for something (Callistege's egotism) rather than just being a setting detail thrown in to be weird for the sake of weird.
: What can you tell me about the datasphere?
: She smiles gently. "Such curiosity! Very well. Let me indulge you." She clears her throat. "Some prior world or worlds seeded the atmosphere and near-space with a vast network of computational and informational devices. I believe the ancients used this network to communicate with each other at great distances, and perhaps across space and through dimensions. It is this latter application that especially interests me... as you might imagine."
: Where did you grow up?
: Who are all these...echoes of you?
Boo! Passive voice!
: How did you meet Aligern?
: "I suppose there's no harm in indulging you," she muses. "You've shown yourself competent in many endeavors, and this should be no different." She arranges one sleeve diffidently.
: Aligern and I met when he came to the Order of Truth, seeking help. Naturally, I was intrigued by his predicament. More so than the man." She smiles, but absently. "He had lost his family, you see, and sought their return. He had brought with him an odd frame of unknown origin that was central to his tale."
: The stuffed shirts at the Order were more interested in picking apart Aligern's story than they were in examining the frame he had brought with him. The task fell to me, so I undertook it. And for that, Aligern became enchanted with me.
This will be important later, I shit you not.
: Why were you and Aligern together if your relationship was so poor?
: "Guilt," she says. "For him, at least - he desperately wanted to save someone. For me, it was a matter of necessity." She sighs and shakes her head.
Callistege's Angry Breakup Speech posted:
: You are insufferable to the end, Aligern. Looking for the worst in a situation is the only way you know how to see. Do you know how long I've carried your pain for you? How much I've had to turn away from your judgmental stares? But you're right. I've had enough.
That doesn't sound like necessity. We also know Aligern wanted to find the Changing God and Callistege didn't really need to fuck him to get his help to do that.
This will be revealed in a plot point that's on the same level of coherence as Thorn Brenin's magic jizz.
: "It was my own research that led me to this state. But despite access to a thousand worlds, I was no closer to achieving my goal, and my sisters were ever closer to plotting my annihilation." She laughs.
: You see, in an effort to extend my own life, I chanced upon versions of myself that would end it. It's true! Some of my echoes seek to become the sole survivors, or to rule over the rest.
: And so I sought a way to return to my base state, if you will. A way to control my future.
: Did you say some of your other selves want to kill you? Why?
: She is silent for several long moments.
: "I don't know," she admits. "I have tried to reason with them, but they are beyond it. But had it not been me, another version of me would have."
: She laughs. "In fact, it was a host of me that did. I am not alone in this. Across countless realities, we came together simultaneously."
: She closes her eyes briefly. "I wonder, sometimes..." She looks to you, as if searching for an answer. "Would it have been better to be one of the other Callisteges, to have no choice in the matter but to be connected, without my prior knowledge or consent? To have my memories, my secrets, bared in a thousand other realities, knowing they could never be used against me, but aware all the same that they were known?
: I have other questions, if you don't mind.
: How are you holding up?
: She raises an eyebrow and waits.
: That's all I wanted to know. Let's move on.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Can you tell me about some of these weirdos we keep running into?
: Qorro is a moron, the Cult of the Changing God is surprisingly helpful, we still need to go to the Order of Truth, and the Dendra O'Hur are selfish assholes.
: Why are you traveling with me anyway?
: Oh, you see, these aren't mirror images. I'm actually a weird psychic bullshit thing where all my mirror universe selves are psychically linked and we can all do stuff together. Unfortunately it's getting real weird in here and I'm hoping the Changing God's research can help me either sever myself or turn all my selves into a superwoman. I used to be a cute local society woman, and now look at me - a weird hivemind of Callisteges seeking immortality!
: Uh, wow. So what's the deal with Aligern?
: He came into the Order of Truth one day and he was very sad. He wanted some help and I got assigned to it. Then he fell in love with me and wanted to fuck and I was all "sure, why not" even though I totally didn't care about him at all for reals and don't have strong feelings toward him now. It's not like I liked him or anything, I just wanted to get to the Changing God before my alternate universe selves kill me!
: Oh, yea, some of us aren't happy about being forced into this thing and some of us want to rule the Callistege collective.
: So, uh, how are you holding up?
: You're cool.
Ugh, what a long chat. I feel like the wordcount could be cut substantially if the authors didn't fall into the trap of writing like they were directing a movie and let the dialog stand on its own.
I wish this game did the thing Tyranny did where the character models appeared on the left in the portrait slot and actually posed in tandem with the dialog these characters were saying. Seriously, you could cut so much just by cutting all of the
Callistege - "Hmm, I'm talking, aren't I?" she says.
We know she's talking! Get that out of there! You don't need the "she says"!
Ugh, sorry. Mini-rant.
Join us next time as we fight spiritual warfare for Jesus Christ!