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The Recollection Of Crankshaft

Chapter 13

"Let me see that," requested VanGarrett, as he approached me.

I turned, and said, "No, it's mine! It's addressed to me!" Then I opened it up and looked at it. "See! Right there! Says right here... 'Please help me'. If that isn't addressed to me, then my name isn't Please."

He gawked at me with a confused expression, which soon changed to the expression one gets when they've just about emptied their bladders of all fluid resembling patience. "Your name is Crankshaft, you gimp. Let me see that." With that, he snatched the device from my hand. At first a stared blankly at the place where it was in my hand, then I prodded at the place it was, hoping I'd hit a button to make it visible again. Needless to say, it didn't work.

VanGarrett examined the device before reading the letter. "This is written on a research pad. Igglanova brand. Very popular company in the field of Experimental Biology." Then he looked at me, and I was like, 'what did I do?', but he said, "Your genetic code was probably written on one of these, Crankshaft."

I replied the only way I really should have. "See, I told you it was mine."

Though, and I've since confirmed this, she didn't realize that I heard her say it at the time, Laya made a quick comment to Zeirom, "Pity the battery didn't run out halfway through the project."

VanGarrett looked at the actual message, and began reading it out loud. As clearly as I can remember, the messages was as follows--

Please help me.

I believe I am somewhere in the East Tower. I am not sure how I got here, and my android-friend seems to have been destroyed. I am cold and scared. Something happened, and somehow I don't feel completely like myself. I am in a small, dark room, which seems to be closed off by a large crate and my android. Please, help me!

VanGarrett scratched his head. "Y'know," he said as he looked at everyone, and shook the device loosely in his hand, "I've come across a lot of stories where the hero had to save a damsel from a tower, but I never thought that I'd be participating in one. In any case, since we're going there anyway, I think we can help her."

By this time, Zeirom had Laya on his shoulder, and indicated his approval. "I'm always keen on saving a damsel in distress."

I was puzzled though. VanGarrett seemed to make an assumption that I wasn't so certain about. He was right, mind you, but I felt a need to question it. "How do you know it's a girl?" I asked.

He looked at me, smirked, and explained his logic. "Well, to keep it simple, an old man would've been more descriptive of his surroundings, and possibly could've identified the contents of the crate. A young man that got too far over his head would've been more like, 'dood! wtf! i sux!', and an old woman simply wouldn't have been there. Beyond that, you know that most guys would sooner die than ask for directions, and this sort of a situation falls under the same jurisdiction. Seriously, any guy that would be down there would be too prideful to hide in a little room and wait for help that might never come. He'd sooner run out there and fight to his death. That actually sounds like what the android did for this girl."

Zeirom wiped his index finger under one of the cameras he calls an eye. "If I had tear ducts, I'd be crying. I can relate to the guy." After that though, Zeirom straightened up. "But we've got a few things to do before we can help her. Let's go find that switch and hit it."

There was a some exchange among us about that, and we proceeded through a hole in a rock face, where we were soon confronted by more Gees, and then soon after, the mother of ALL Gees. The Gee Gue, as it is called, gave my hind end to me on a silver platter. Service with a smile, over 2 million served, your way, right away. Though, after wrestling with it, and Laya repeatedly casting Reverser on me, Zeirom finally tackled the thing out of the air, and beat it down like a redheaded stepchild. It kind of reminded me of the time that B.O.C., on The Guild, tore a Sinow Blue from the ceiling, and pounded it until it was mushy.

Once the thing was dead, the rest off the annoyance was all in popping some nasty poison spitting bubble things, which was taken care of rather effectively by VanGarrett using a pair of what I believe were mechguns; though, admittedly, while they behaved like mechguns, in his rush to run around and do what he was doing, the glimpse I got of his weapons looked like a large pair of maracas. And that RAmar was shakin' them to the rhythm, let me tell ya. Oh yeah, then there were more Gees, which seemed to be rather irate over the fact that a three-ton RAcast had liquefied their grand master and schemer of schemes.

After that, VanGarrett went and pushed a button or something, and we took a teleporter back to the Central Control Area.

At the Central Control Area, we all stood in front of the big door. It was a wall of a door, really. After it detected us, and descended into the ground, I observed that it was tapered, with the thin side at top, and the thick side at bottom. It's worth noting that the top was about two meters or so thick. Big door.

The first area behind the door that we were introduced to, contained a sloped surface, stuffed in between two sets of stairs. At the top there were a couple of doors, and a bunch of Gibbons ready to shriek, pound their palms on the ground and make noise at us, before spitting fireballs and ice showers at us.

One Gibbon landed right in front of me, and with breath that would make even a sewage treatment plant employee ph34r, shrieked at me, making a loud "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHCHK!!!!" sound.

At first, I jumped, but then I got brave and with a mighty flare of what one might consider to be a stressed out-looking, vein-in-forehead-popping expression, I drew a long, deep breath and replied, "AAAAaaaAAAaaAAAHHhhHHHhHHhhhHHCHKPFffFFT!!" With extra spittle. This was promptly followed by a platform shoe thrust where the sun doesn't shine, and a big ball of Foie crammed in its mouth. Hope it liked spicy food, because that's what it got.

Then something smacked me from behind that I couldn't see. I've since been informed that it's a new variation on a Sinow-type android-- a Sinow Berrill. Don't let the name fool you, this sort of android is NOT a ninja often used to contain alcohol. A Sinow Berrill is actually quite a formidable opponent. It hits hard, it hits fast, and even bends light around itself to achieve a deranged sort of invisibility. Actually, it's more of an obfuscation, or a obscurity, or some other word I'd have to make up. From what I've observed, it's more or less just a trick done with a pulsating density shift of a film on the inside of its armor layer, which effectively causes the gravity field the android's mass produces to move around, pulling light this way and that. It's a very efficient method of camouflage, as, while the film is rather difficult to make, it only takes a small electrical charge to cause the pulsing gravity field. Very interesting.

So, anyway, yeah, as I was flying through the air, I was contemplating whether it was my 3rd or 4th rib that I was feeling out of place. I think it may have been both. Fortunately, they popped back into place when I slammed into the slope, and skid to the top. The initial tissue damage and pain was, of course, quickly remedied by Laya's Resta technique.

When the Sinow Berrill became visible again, Zeirom found it to be directly in front of him. So he dropped his rifle, and grappled with the machine. The first step was to rip the huge knuckle-ish weapons from its hands, which was then followed by Zeirom grunting and locking hands with it. They struggled with eachother for a bit, while VanGarrett shot down a couple more Gibbons, and Laya used Zonde to lay some righteous smack down on another Sinow Berrill.

The Sinow Berrill was at least twice the weight of Zeirom, but Zeirom managed to plant one foot firmly behind himself, in the concrete. I'm certain that his support frame must've been buckling when he lifted his other foot, but the physics of his strategy, I must say, were fairly sound. The foot he wasn't using to anchor himself, he lifted as high as he could, and applied pressure to the Sinow Berrill's shoulder.

Now, on first thought, you might think that such a maneuver would apply more pressure to the leg that was supporting him. But, if you were to continue on that assumption, you'd be WRONG. The pressure on his leg stayed the same, while the pressure on his arms was divided onto his lifted leg, and furthermore, the focus of the pressure on the Sinow Berrill’s side was shifted toward its shoulder. What else did this do to the Sinow Berrill? Shifted its balance. Now the Sinow Berrill’s heavy frame was tilting to one side. Being so heavy, a Sinow Berrill can't handle sudden balance shifts that haven't been pre-designed.

Of course, when it fell, it didn't fall to its right side, the side that Zeirom was applying the pressure to. Nooo, it fell to its LEFT side, because Zeirom focusing his pressure on that shoulder, and after its armor bent, the joint-pin gave way and the arm fell off in Zeirom's hand. The resulting smash into the concrete shook the entire pad.

The Sinow Berrill didn't seem to know how to handle this occurrence, and slowly began trying to get up, not seeming to understand that its arm was missing. With a grunt and a limp, Zeirom picked up his Justy and pointed it at the beastly machine. "You look so miserable, and mercy killing is soooo not my thing... But I'm going to kill you, anyway." The trigger was pulled, and the Sinow Berrill was officially off-line.

With that immediate area taken care of, Laya Resta'd Zeirom, as his skirmish did cause an amount of structural damage from all the stress involved. That cured his limp. We then proceeded up the stairs, and as we got to the top, and VanGarrett had already walked through the door, I heard a voice.

It was a metallic, though decidedly feminine voice. She asked, "Who's there? Do you know me?"

We all turned, and VanGarrett stepped back into the area with us, to see a tall HUcaseal. Her paint job was teal, and her figure was slender. Her pale face was further accented by a messy metal hair do, topped off with a large pair of sensor arrays sticking out of the top of her head. Zeirom was the first to reply, "I don't think we do Miss, but perhaps I might like to. Can we help you with something?"

She approached us, and lowered her head, almost humbly, to Zeirom. "I... I'm afraid that I'm lost..."

Zeirom seem confused. "Your sensor arrays look..." he paused for a moment, examined her, and placing a hand on her shoulder continued, "Quite good, actually. Is your GPS software malfunctioning? I can tell you that you're at the entrance to the Central Control Area on Gal da Val Island..."

She quickly clarified herself, "No, no, I know that much. I've wandered this place a great number of times, and have the whole island quite thoroughly mapped out. I mean, I'm... Unsure of how I got here, and furthermore, I can't find my master..."

VanGarrett stepped forward. "Your master... It's been several generations since androids have had masters. How old a model are you?"

"I wish I could say. I am of the Neo_Meiu series, however. My name is Ceres," she said.

VanGarrett chose to take opportunity of her vast knowledge of the area. "Ceres, you say you've explored this area thoroughly. Do you know the fastest route to the East Tower?"

Her response consisted of, "Yes, I do. There is a teleporter on the level just on the other side of the railing in the next room."

Zeirom questioned, "What's the best way to get there from here?"

"Well, the safest method is to use the teleporter down the dam a little distance. I suppose you could also jump down, but you might hurt yourself."

Then I jumped up, and yelled, "Yay! I might be able to hurt myself!"

Then everyone looked at me. VanGarrett smacked me upside the head. I flinched, and rubbed the back of my head, while he continued, "Can you join us? We're investigating a conspiracy, and trying to save a young woman."

Then she said, "I can show you as far as the teleporter on the other side, but I'm afraid that'll be as far as I can go." I was puzzled, so I shrugged. With VanGarrett's acknowledgement of her promise, we moved on.

There were more fights with Sinow Berrills, as well as these Sinow Spigell things, that were slightly more agile, and really, quite, um, disarming. Gibbons and Gees were set ablaze, and Laya even taught me to use Zonde and Barta techniques, so that I could zap and freeze things, respectively. So, my usual rounds went something along the lines of Fry, Zap, Freeze, Fry, Zap, Freeze, Zap, Zap, ZAPZAPZAP, Fry, Freeze, Thaw, Fry, Zap, and kick! And then I'd get up and try to hit something again.

Ceres was a pretty good fighter. She came to my rescue on a number of occasions when I probably would've been beaten into a pulpy goo. Of course, so did VanGarrett and Zeirom, and once or twice, I had to be Resta'd again and again by Laya.

We did eventually fight our way to the teleporter, and Ceres had to go her separate way. "Just head in the other direction once you're down there, and you'll get to the entrance to the East tower," she said.

Zeirom did want to know why she couldn't come with us, though. "So, why can't you come any further, anyway?"

Ceres had trouble answering this one, though. All she could come up with was, "Something keeps me away. I don't know why. I just can't enter the towers."

Zeirom nodded, and VanGarrett offered a thanks. "We appreciate your help. It's been great. Thanks. I hope that you find who you're looking for."

Ceres started to solemnly walk away. She turned her head to look back at us, as she stopped and said, "Thanks... So do I."

We watched her walk off. Then we all looked at eachother, and Laya commented, "Well, that was creepy. Let's hop on the teleporter."

So then we were on a lower platform on the dry side of this dam that we call the Central Control Area. We started our charge, and were soon confronted. Now, I had previously thought that a Hildebear was large and menacing. I had previously thought that a Hildebear must be the biggest, most vicious, evil ape-like creature on all of Ragol. What I WASN'T counting on, however, was this huge buffalo-monkey known as "Gibbles" to come falling out of the sky right in front of us, and start furiously pounding the ground as though someone had been force feeding it pissed-off pills. VanGarrett flew back a few feet, and as he got back onto his feet, he yelled at it, "Take a CHILL pill, man!" He and Zeirom then got into it with this thing, and they just pounded it with photon bullets, soon to be assisted by Laya with a good hearty BOOM! of Rafoie. BOOM! Yes, very much boom.

After that, we carried on, being confronted by more Gees, Gibbons, and the occasional upgraded Sinow-type android. About halfway through our trip though, I was running through some rather large vegetation sprouting out of the cracks in the concrete, and I tripped over something. Which, I know, wearing stylish platform shoes, you'd think that I would trip more often. But I'm used to them, so when I tripped, I thought something of it.

Using Foie, I burned some of the vegetation away, and yelled at the others, "Hey! Take a look at this!"

I stood up, and Laya read it out loud for everyone. It was a stone plaque, embedded in the ground. It read, "In memory of Zinkin First, AUW 3018 - AUW 3083. His civilization was his duty, his family was his life."

I stared at it for a moment. I'd heard the name before. I knew I had. I was trying to flip through my mind to see if I could drag up who it was. I didn't have to flip long, however. Zeirom did it for me. Well, he said who it was; he didn't flip through my mind to drag the information up. That would just be silly. He would've been like, cut open my head while I pose appropriately, stick a couple of electrodes in there, and be all 'here it is!' No, what he said was, "Zinkin First. I'd heard he'd gone missing, as did his family. He was the Technical Engineer aboard Pioneer 1. Very high-profile."

Laya wiped a tear. "Such a sad thing. I wonder what happened to him?"

Zeirom shrugged, "No one has been reported to know of their fate. The entire First family line. Gone. Just like that."

VanGarrett nodded. "Very interesting indeed. All right, let's keep moving!" He prodded us, and kept saying, "Come on, come on," until we finally moved on, killed a few more beasts, and went ahead to the teleporter to the East Tower.

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