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The Recollection Of Crankshaft

Chapter 14

Once inside the East Tower, we took a good look around. Well, at least Laya and I did. VanGarrett and Zeirom had been there several times before, it would seem, so their level of interest in our surroundings was rather like my level of interest in a well-thought out plan-- I'll look at it because it's there, but I won't bother to try to really grasp the details.

We found three security access terminals in front of us. I examined one, and went to press a button, but VanGarrett grabbed my wrist before I was able to. "Two of them are decoys, Crankshaft," he said. He let go of my wrist and continued, "If you try to open the door using that terminal, you'll release a Mericarol."

This statement confused me, and I asked, "Why wouldn't I want a miracle? We're gonna need it!" Then I went to press the button again, and once again, VanGarrett stopped me.

He explained further, "No, not a miracle, like, the Great Light comes down and shows you the meaning of life, or causes the photon bullet about to pierce your noodle suddenly bend around your head, leaving you unscathed... A Mericarol-- Something of a large plant that can move freely and really mess you up."

I stared at him blankly, and shrugged. I still didn't understand. Then I heard Zeirom yell, "One of these!" then shoot the terminal at the far right, leaving it rather thoroughly trashed. A large, plant-like beast was teleported into the room. It reminded me of a giant, chlorophyll-filled scorpion, except that whatever legs it had were completely hidden underneath it, and its stringer more resembled the business end of a carnivorous plant.

I screamed, "I don't want to die!" and promptly assumed an angry pose and or facial expression, and with a mighty grunt, I smacked it with a ball of Foie.

I would like to say that my ball of Foie lit it ablaze and sent it into a flaming death, where it cried out, "Oh cruel world! Why have you forsaken me? The wrath of the Almighty Crankshaft has shown me my doom! Oh had I only followed the path of light, I may've lived on as perhaps a potted plant of some variety, and maybe even as a fragrant potpourri!"

But no, instead I think I only pissed it off, as its tail spit something at me that made me forget who I was, where I was, and what direction I wanted to move in. I was rather thoroughly confused, indeed. I stumbled around, making drooling noises. In the mean time, I'm fairly certain that VanGarrett and Zeirom dispatched the Mericarol, as by the time Laya cast Anti on me, and I was able to comprehend my surroundings again, the beast was a lump of fertilizer.

Without much further word on that subject, VanGarrett hit a button on the middle terminal, and we carried onward. The floor was sloped, and curved around the exterior edge of the tower. On our right, we had a pleasant view of the stormy sky over Gal de Val. On our left, a gaping hole, in which to fall down. Beyond that was a room, filled with research workstations. Altogether, it was quite a sight to be seen. There were two doors at the end of this segment, one seemed to be sealed shut, and the other was unlocked. I would presume that the sealed door lead to the research facilities we could see from our vantage point in the corridor.

Passing through the unsealed door, we entered a smaller, security corridor that can be locked down to keep things out as necessary. Entering the next segment of the spiral, there were more, flashy decoy terminals, much like the previous segment, though most of them in here were destroyed. This segment, however, also had something that the previous segment hadn't-- The destroyed remains of Recoboxes and a large, dead ape-like thing, that looked very much like the one that ambushed us on the side of the dam outside. The door on the other side was opened already, so without any further thought about it from my part, we carried forward.

Zeirom, however, did make an observation. "Someone's come through here within the last twelve hours. The auto-repair systems haven't repaired the terminals, and the security hasn't reset yet, either."

As we entered the next security corridor, VanGarrett made the observation, "We must be getting close to the girl that sent the message, then." His reasons for coming to this conclusion, I still do not understand, but I suppose that he was reasonably correct. We wouldn't find this out for a little bit, however.

When we stepped into the next segment, we found ourselves confronted with the rabid-bull-like Delbiters. Sitting on top of one, was a fairly attractive young Newman woman, though she had burn scars all down her arms and legs. Her hair was long, and a very very dark purple. I stopped to admire her, and I didn't really notice what the others did, except that Zeirom shouted, "YOU!" then shot at her with his massive rifle-type weapon.

She stood, and backflipped off of the Delbiter, as it charged at Zeirom. We all dived out of the way, except for Zeirom, who instead chose to brace himself, and plant both of his fists into the beast's exposed face, as it impacted him. The result was that he left a trail dented in the metal floor, all the way into the previous segment of the spiral, and we were without him for a period.

So, while Zeirom was wrangling with the Delbiter, we got up, and watched as the woman approached us. Laya slid up next to me, and elbowed me in the hip. She would've elbowed me in the ribs, I suppose, but her elbow is at like, hip level to me, so she elbowed me in the hip, and I jumped and yelled, "Ow!" then looked down at her.

Laya pulled my ear down to her, and whispered into it, "I think her name is Lynn Darkstrike. Meira wrote about her. I don't know why she was on the Delbiter, but I do know that she and Zeirom don't get along very well."

I nodded, and whispered back, "I'll relay the information to VanGarrett."

At this point, I leaned over to VanGarrett and whispered to him, "Her name is Lynn Darkstrike. Meira wrote about how she used to ride a Delbiter and trample Zeirom for fun and profit."

VanGarrett looked at me like I was a freak, then looked back at Lynn. So I did the same. Except he spoke. "You must be Lynn Darkstrike, I presume."

The only reply that we were given was VanGarrett getting slammed with a rather potent bolt of Zonde. Well. I guess that wasn't the only reply. Before the Zonde, she laughed, and then while VanGarrett was on the ground, she shouted to us, "You do not belong here. You may not interfere with my Lord Guybec's plans."

The best response I could come up with was, "Err... Oh yeah!?" Then I turned to Laya and said, "Ha. I sure showed her, now didn't I?" Thus I smiled smugly, and posed semi-dramatically. Lynn evidently wasn't terribly pleased with this, and I nearly became next to get fried. Luckily for myself, I felt a tingly feeling all over myself before the strike of Zonde, and as a result, I squeaked, squirmed, and jumped, thereby narrowly avoiding the bolt-- entirely by accident, at that. See, I have mad electricity dodging skills.

VanGarrett stood up, rubbing his head, then wiped his armor off a bit. "Well that was perhaps just the slightest bit rude. For the record, this Lord Guybec of yours has a wife and children that're missing him. I intend to have a chat with him."

At about this time, the Delbiter slid back into the room, full of holes, and covered in Photon burns. Without any variety of hesitation, like a cube of butter in a deep fryer, the carcass dissolved into a puddle of purple goo. Zeirom soon followed. Well, I mean, he came back into the room after the thing slid in and dissolved, I don't mean he dissolved into purple goo. No Purple Goo-mode for Zeirom, uh-uh, no way. He's all made of metal and stuff. He is, what we in the Physics department say, 'Mechanically Secure'.

So, anyway, Zeirom came back in. Immediately, I overheard Laya ask Zeirom, "Zeirom, what's up with Lynn? She wasn't this way in Meira's writing..."

Zeirom replied, as he watched Lynn, "Meira's not finished with it yet, either. Lynn turned Dragoon crazy, and when Meira wouldn't join her under the control of Dark Falz, she tried to kill us."

Laya looked confused. She looked up at him and asked, "Wait, so Dragoon's that way because of Lynn, here?"

Zeirom paused for a moment to give a frustrated look, before he answered, "Well, no, I mean, err-- dang it, you saw him normal; in whatever sense that word can be applied to Dragoon. Lynn made him go crazy-- twice, and made him try to kill Meira both times. Last time, Dux had to hold him down with a continuous bolt of Zonde."

Laya got wide-eyed, and just kinda mouthed the word, "Oh..." as she looked back at Lynn.

Zeirom shouted at Lynn, "Was that the best you've got?? I could handle a barge load of those things, and still have enough battery power left to take a dozen runs through the VR Simulator!"

She hissed at him, and much to my surprise, she suddenly sprouted wings, and took to the air. Her skin turned a shiny metallic color, and she began lobbing balls of energy at us, at this point. So, we ended up dodging around. She began summing up Delbiters, as well, which, as you might imagine, put a real cramp in our day.

Laya began casting Gifoie, sending fireballs spiraling around her, thus keeping the baddies away. She also kept casting Razonde, which functioned to further hurt things. By the time most of the Delbiters had been taken care of, she'd worked up a good sweat, and left the remaining Delbiters to the rangers and my random bursts of Foie.

I stopped casting Foie to see her do what she did next. I'd seen her do it once before, in the Ruins, but this time I wasn't in a hurry, and got a chance to watch her. Whenever she pulled off a technique, she did it as though it were no big deal. What she was doing this time, however, she had to concentrate on for a moment. I could see her lips moving, just before she reached her hand into the air, and screamed at the top of her lungs, "TANDLE!"

This was no technique. What she did, is to Razonde at level 30, what barrel of pure industrial alcohol is to the cheap, 20 proof stuff you buy in liquor stores. This "Tandle," as I understand it, is not a technique, but rather, it's true magic. Her spell called forth a massive bolt of lightning (and by "massive", I don't simply mean big-- I mean it had a discernable MASS!) from the clouds that shattered windows, destroyed Lynn's wings, and slammed her into the ground the way that a metric ton of bricks would smack a Mothmant out of the air, in ten times normal gravity. Just SMACK! and she was down.

Laya was breathing hard, as VanGarrett shot down the last of the Delbiters. Hearing Lynn shout in pain, Zeirom and I ran over to her, soon to be joined by VanGarrett and Laya.

The rain splashed on the ground, washing broken glass around in the various puddles left behind by the Delbiters. Lynn looked up at Zeirom. Her skin had returned to a normal tone, albeit, she was now covered in burns. She drew a deep breath, and said, "Zeirom... I have a request... please..." There was a gentleness in her voice now, that even I could recognize wasn't there before. Beyond that, I could sense that a great amount of hatred and malice had left her. Just completely gone. Like she was someone else entirely.

Zeirom kneeled next to her. "I'm listening, Lynn."

She continued, as she stared blankly toward the ceiling, "Zeirom... Please... Apologize for me... To Meira... I've done her a grievous wrong." She stopped for a moment, and closed her eyes. I noticed a tear slide from the corner of her eye, and mix with the puddle of purple stuff underneath her, as she drew another breath. She opened her eyes again, and said, "I joined Dark Falz and his Dark Force after..." she choked, breathed, and continued, "After someone brought me... brought me to the Ruins, and showed me the body of my lover... Transfigured... Made into... one of them... Now my soul will stay with Dark Falz forever... But at least it can't continue to use my body..." She continued to stare at the ceiling, took one last breath, and pushed out another quick few words, "Tell Meira... Don't kill the dragon... He's still in there..." With those words, she let go, and her body disappeared in a cloud of white fog.

We all looked at eachother. Zeirom said something. "Well, looks like I'll have something to tell Meira about, next time I go visit her."

VanGarrett nodded. "Yeah," he paused, then looked up, "Hey, I think we've found our broken RAcast." He pointed at a pile of parts blocking the entrance to a little room that I think may've been used as some sort of storage closet at one time.

The RAcast was rather large, and positioned on one knee, in such a way that he managed to block the entire door way. Zeirom walked over, and examined it. "Looks like a Prime-type. Or what's left of one." He knelt down, and examined further. "Hm. There's no significant external damage. A piercing in his armor here and there. A few dents. Not much more than can be said for myself. He's seen some good battles, though."

I walked up, and examined the RAcast, myself. "This guy wasn't kaputi'd. Actually, judging from the smell, and ash around the piercings, I'd say that he burned out..."

VanGarrett interrupted us, "Guys, I know the RAcast is interesting, as you're both mechanically inclined, but look at this." He gestured behind the RAcast, in the room that he was blocking. There, lying on top of what appeared to be torn clothing, blood, and some other fluid I've not identified, lay a pale, young woman. Mid to late teens, by all appearances, though she was a Newman, so she could've been incredibly young, like 1 or she could've been some absurd age like 80.

Zeirom pulled the RAcast out of the way, and holstering his Suppressed Gun, VanGarrett stepped inside to pick her up. As he lifted her, he said, "I wish we had something to wrap her in. We really shouldn't let her stay like this."

Zeirom pulled out a towel, and held out his hands. "Give her here."

VanGarrett gave a surprised expression, but nonetheless handed her over anyway. "Dude, you carry a towel with you?"

As Zeirom wrapped her up, and placed her on his shoulder, he said, "Hey... A man who doesn't know where his towel is, is as lost as the towel he cannot find."

VanGarrett shrugged. "Well, it's certainly been a convenience. Let's find Guybec, and get out of here."

I protested. "Hey! What are we going to do about this RAcast??"

VanGarrett looked at me. "We'll have to leave him here, for the time being. HuBBs and I can come back after him, later. Right now, it's important to get the business done, and find Guybec."

Then a disturbing voice said, "You've found him, RAmar."

We all looked. He seemed to be a FOmar, but his eyes were black, and I didn't get a terribly good look at him. VanGarrett immediately stepped forward. "Guybec! What in the Great Light's forgotten name have you been doing? What is all this?"

Guybec just stepped back, shifted his weight to his back foot, and began to explain. Rolling his eyes to indicate his lack of care for the subject, he said, "Well, you see, my agenda consists of unfurling an elaborate plan to achieve some purpose, and in the mean time, not telling you any useful details that you could use to your advantage."

To this, I replied, "Well, as long as we've got our bearings straight."

VanGarrett nodded. "I see. Well, I guess I couldn't expect you to just reveal your plan, like they do in the movies. I can I get just one honest answer, though?"

Guybec looked at him like he was a freak. Not like VanGarrett was a freak, but like, he, himself, Guybec, was a freak. Perhaps he was. I dunno, really. VanGarrett took it as a queue. He asked, "How long have you been doing this?"

Guybec spazzed for a moment, as though trying to say something, but soon stopped, and just said, "I'm sorry, VanGarrett. He won't let me tell you. It's beyond my own control. It's unfortunate that I have to kill you all now, too." He turned around, and started to walk away. "At least, I don't have to do it, myself."

As he entered the next corridor, four soldier-like creatures appeared, each wielding some sort of Partisan. Zeirom grunted, "Ill Gills... Great."

VanGarrett nodded. "Yeah. Fortunately, they're still way over on the other side of the room, and we're rangers."

Zeirom nodded. "I hear that." Then he handed the young woman to me, and pulled his rifle back out to start shooting at them.

The Ill Gills moved quickly, however, dodging shots, and making their way toward us. It was when they just got to where they were starting to overtake VanGarrett, and he was having to start trying to contend with them, hand-to-hand, that the young FOnewearl woke.

She groggily looked up at the Ill Gills, and lifted a hand. One by one, they fell to the powerful light element that powers the Grants technique. Just Pooowooo-WOOM! and they're gone. Then she fell asleep again. We each looked at eachother again, and without any further argument we made hast to leave the building. We were finished.

I gave the girl back to Zeirom, and like Rappies who'd gotten smacked from a hundred meters off, we ran away from the tower. We dared not lay a Telepipe anywhere near it, for fear of what may follow us. We ran back the way we came, forsaking all enemies we saw along the way. There was a single Sinow Beryl that gave us trouble, but he was quickly dispatched by Laya's technical goodness.

We took the girl back to the emergency room, on the Hunters' Deck. It was the quickest place we could get her to. To sum things up, the doctors told us that she was in rather good health, but exhausted. So we waited around for her, and when she finally woke up we talked with her for a bit.

We took a census, and decided that Laya's would likely be the most pleasant face for her to wake up to. So we got a stool for her to stand on, and when she started to stir, Laya got up, and looked over her.

When she awoke, she looked at Laya and said, "Who... Who are you?" I might add that HuBBsDoctor had shown up, by this time.

I can only imagine what Laya must've looked like, standing over her, with the light right behind her head. Laya answered her, "My name is Laya. My friends and I recieved your letter, and brought you to this hospital."

"You saved me..." she sat up suddenly, "Where is Mota Storm?? Did you bring Mota Storm??"

VanGarrett stepped up to her bed and answered, "I presume you're referring to the RAcast that was with you. Regrettably, we were ill equipped to bring him back. We were planning to make a return trip for him, however.

HuBBsDoctor stepped up, "Yeah, don't worry your pretty little head. We'll bring your friend back."

Zeirom spoke from his position at the foot of the bed, "Mota Storm was in fairly bad condition. I'm not so certain he can be repaired without replacing some major parts. We may be able to help him, but he was in pretty bad shape."

She stared down at the sheets, and a few tears rolled from her eyes. "He did it for me," she said.

Zeirom leaned forward. "What'd he do?"

She continued, "He gave his life. For me... He always used to say... 'Those who can be repaired, must give their all, for those who can't'... I think he may have given a bit more than he could spare."

VanGarrett straightened up, and said, "He will have to be honored." Then his posture fixed itself. "And rebuilt. If possible."

She nodded. Then VanGarrett asked the question we all wanted to know. "So, who are you, anyway?"

She thought about it for a moment. I don't think she could remember a lot of details, but she soon looked out the window, at the stars, and she said, "My name is Allanque. I'll tell you that much. Much more, I really don't know. Something happened, though I don't know what exactly. Mota Storm was keeping a live log of what was happening, so we may be able to find out more from his storage device."

This is how it carried on. In summary, VanGarrett, HuBBsDoctor, and Zeirom all volunteered to take her down to retrieve Mota Storm's body, and attempt to rebuild him. Last I knew, Mota Storm was on display in a discrete location of Allanque's choosing. In the end, he'd overheated, and many of his moving parts had fused together. They did get the information from Mota Storm's data storage device. I understand that it's a log going back to the days of Pioneer 1. What it contains exactly, I don't know, as I've not read it, myself.

So this is how a letter changed my life. Due to the letter, I met Allanque, and  this encounter with she and Mota Storm inspired me to officially join the Hunters' Guild, as did Laya. Laya worked out a way to manipulate the capitalization of her name, so that she'd get a Pinkal ID, and I didn't really care, so I ended up with Whitill. I've learned more techniques, and in fact, I've actually taken a liking to Grants. It makes things die. Also, because we wanted nothing to do with it, Laya gave the disc to VanGarrett and HuBBsDoctor. Let them deal with Akolyte. They seem to be more readily prepared for the task.

I've not been back to Ragol since I started writing this. After all, I've had classes to teach, since the University finished renovating. The guild work did get me a few extra Meseta during the extended break, and the investigation that I did in the week or so that it took the repair crew to fix everything, I learned something about Ragol.

Hey, I said at the beginning of this thing, that I could've told you right off the bat, and indeed, I could've. So here's the deal. The government says that we came to Ragol to escape the overpopulation of our planet, which has been causing our ecosystem to go all whack. The popular opinion among many hunters is that someone has pulled some strings so that our researchers could come here and research the D-Factor found in beasts in the Ruins, and a few in the Seabed facility, and use that knowledge to make Super Soldiers.

My opinion is different though. I've observed Dr. Osto's research myself, and while he was definitely trying to control the D-Factor, I don't think that it was for the purposes of making super-soldiers. Think about it. The Pioneer Project did a very successful job of attaining world peace, as all seven of our nations have banded together for it. Furthermore, it can't be a deal involving world-domination, as it's been proven already, just that the research was being done, that large scale manipulation of the government is indeed possible by whoever it is that may be behind the whole plan. So, it really wouldn't make sense to generate a race of super-soldiers, now would it? They'd stand around going, "Hey Bob, you have anything to do?" And the other guy would be like, "No, Bob. I've got nothing to do. You?" "No way."

Our people do have a legacy, though. Most've forgotten about it. This isn't the first time we've encountered Dark Falz. Dark Falz is a demon, or god, representing our worst qualities. Now, I don't know exactly what the purpose is, but I think that Dr. Osto was trying to control the D-Factor, not so that he could make soldiers, but so that Dark Falz could be safely transported a long distance. Perhaps even back to where we came from. Back to our ancestral home. Before we settled Coral. The legends of Algol still float in our culture. Still, I can't prove anything.

So, yeah, that's my point. That and, flaming marshmallows, there is poultry on Ragol that will KILL you! I'm not kidding, one of those Rappies totally bit me, and I was just, "AH!" and I've still got a welt. Stupid bird. I smacked it good for that. Then I smacked it again for good measure. Dumb thing.

So anyway, yeah, a letter changed my life, even though I get lots and lots of letters. I do apologize for the huge tangent I had to take to get to this, but really, if I hadn't gone on about the disc and the androids, and the magic, then this would've been really really short, and that's just not my thing. If you want my information, you have to earn it. So if you've made it this far, earn it you have.

In closing, I'd just like to state that my hand is hurting. Ouch. I've been writing this thing for quite some time now, and now my hand is hurting. My biggest thought right now, is to take a good drink of temporally preserved milk, lean back, and take a nap. It's been a good run, I think. I do hope you've enjoyed reading this, 'cause hey, I've enjoyed writing it, and chronicling my experiences. Have fun, kiddies!

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