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The Recollection Of Crankshaft

Chapter 5

My departure from my office included the obligatory prodding of my head into Laya's office to kindly ask, "Wanna go get piss-faced drunk?" Which, after dodging an airborne paperweight, I removed my head from her office, and proceeded out to the tavern down the street.

Already there, upon my arrival Dux greeted me with a big, loud, "Bleh!!" or some other similar noise, as he'd already been drinking and I don't believe that he was able to come up with a traditional greeting on such short notice.

I replied with a brief, "Zoot zoot!" for lack of a better greeting, myself. I then excused myself to apprehend the bartender's attention and get a drink for myself. "Give me something obscene!" I said to him. Which, he agreed and got creative with his service. He soon gave me a large bowl on a stem, that I might consider a glass, and it was full of several liquids of different colors, creating a layered effect. I looked at this funny, then observed the garnish constructed of the flesh of several fruits, in the general shape of a bipedal sort of being, and it was positioned in such a manner that it looked like it'd been shot or kicked or otherwise assaulted so it was going to fall. My inquiry as to what this thing is called revealed to my knowledge that this drink was commonly referred to as the "Yakuza Hit". "Obscene, indeed!" I told him, and promptly pounded down as much of the beverage as I could in one session of lifting the glass to my lips.

When I stopped twitching I looked to Dux, whose beverage was constructed of roasted and fermented hops and barley. Beer, I believe it is commonly referred to as. What exactly is a hops, anyway? It makes me think of some bizarre green thing you might find when you go somewhere and look for bizarre green things. Sorry, I have no idea what that means, either.

What is it about drunken rambling that refuses to stick to your mind? I'll just make something up that sounds about right. So Dux said, "Urrrrooo?" to which, I replied, "Gooobah!"

Then Dux said, "Whaash you shay???" We continued something like this, until we finally forgot to keep ordering drinks, and therefore sobered, and found each other looking at each other with strange drunken expressions, and could only say to each other, "What?"

Then, I noticed the time and said, "Hey, I'm supposed to meet someone on the Skyly deck. Are you interested in coming with me?"

Dux pondered this one over an empty glass. "My mug appears to be without fluid grains. I suppose that this means that I'm finished with it. Furthermore, this gives me the options of either ordering another liter, or leaving. Though, I suppose that if we are to go to the Skyly deck, then we'll probably end up going down to Ragol and randomly killing things, which I suppose can be amusing enough, but it seems like I've done an awful lot of that." So, I looked at him with a strange expression, and he finally agreed to go with me.

We met up on the Skyly deck, as previously arranged. Upon my arrival, I discovered that VanGarrett, Dux and I were not there alone, but there was another goateed RAmar, dressed similarly, by the name of HuBBsDoctor along with VanGarrett.

"Hello, Crankshaft. I didn't realize you were acquainted with Dux," VanGarrett expressed. I hadn't realized Dux was acquainted with VanGarrett.

"I didn't realize you were acquainted with Dux, VanGarrett," I said. It seemed like the obvious reply. Dux has become a hub, it seems.

Dux seemed more interested in talking to VanGarrett, though. "Where the heck have you been anyway, Vee-Gee?"

Strangely enough, VanGarrett looked thoughtful for a moment. Then carried on, "I was with Randon when he was taken, Dux. I've only just returned within the last few days, from the aftermath."

Evidently Randon was someone of great importance, as Dux replied with great exclamation, "You were with Randon?!"

VanGarrett continued, "Yes. As were Artemis and Guybec."

"So what happened down there?"

"I dunno, we got separated. It was almost as if the monsters were deliberately trying to split us up."

Then I yelled, "Monsters?!" I yelled this, because I was feeling left out. And also because they were talking about monsters, and monsters scare me. They're monstrous.

HuBBsDoctor pulled me aside, while VanGarrett and Dux continued to chat about this Randon fellow. "On Ragol, Crankshaft, there are creatures that used to be native to the lands, but've become mutated by something. We commonly refer to these as monsters."

"But what if I don't WANT to be mutated by something?"

"I didn't say you would be."

"But but but, you just said they were mutated by something!"

"Yes, the animals have."

"But what about their rights and free will?"

"What rights and free will? They're animals!"

"Do they not bleed red blood?"

"As a matter of fact, some don't."

"Oh... Well let's kill them all, then!"

"Hey, take it easy, boss. We only kill what we need to kill to survive."

This flabbergasted me. "Do you mean to say that a hunter doesn't really, erm, hunt?" It seemed to make sense to me at the time.

HuBBsDoctor sighed and explained, "Hunting isn't just about killing animals, Crankshaft. It's also about finding lost loved ones, braving danger to further research, solving the unsolved, recovering precious items, and indeed, exploring the unexplored."

I almost shed a tear. "That was beautiful, man. I want a section ID, now."

HuBBsDoctor looked at me like I was a flaming weirdo, and said, "That's not your section ID right there on your tie?"

"Oh this little trinket? Yeah, I like it, too."

"But it's not yours?"

"Yes, I'm very tall."

"If that's not yours, then where did you get it from?"

I'm not exactly sure why I replied the way I did, but at this point, I turned around toward the teleporter and started walking, shouting absurd things like, "I take pleasure in bonsai trees!" and "I know very little about watching TV?"

I was followed by the rest of the group, and randomly choosing a location from the teleporter, as I like to do random things because they're unexpected, and I soon found myself in an area known as "The Mines". Funny, they don't look like mines. More like a laboratory. Through from what I understand, this facility was more used to produce research materials than actually research them. Go figure. It made me happen to think that I might be able to find a computer that can read Fender's disk, here. Because well, I wanted to know what the heck is on that disk. Because it's a disk, and it's got something on it, and at the time, I hadn't a clue. You should consider yourself fortunate, as I did eventually find out, and that's why I'm writing this. See, I'm not just writing this to ramble on and on and on and on totally aimlessly. Sometimes, things DO have a purpose!

I was soon joined by Dux, VanGarrett, and HuBBsDoctor, and they all looked at me as though I were some obscene thing. Then Dux and HuBBsDoctor yelled at me for just running into a dangerous area with no other form of protection, and I stared blankly, but interestingly enough, VanGarrett only mumbled something about 'interesting behavior'. Strange, indeed.

Then we dashed out into the next room. Here we were confronted by a group of mechanical beauties. gillchics, a variety of robot often used for mining or security purposes. These particular drones seemed to be fitted for both. "Hey! Gillchics!" I yelled with excitement.

Dux yelled at me, "Crankshaft! Get back! Those things will pound you to mush!"

Mush, he said. Any substance containing both liquid and matter that has been beaten back and forth until the solid portion has been broken up and has become saturated with the liquid portion. Indeed, these things are capable of that. I should know, I've studied them extensively. I am, after all, a professor of mechanical physics. I looked back at Dux and replied to him, "What? These things? They're harmless. Look." I turned around just as one approached me. My thought on this, was that it was convenient that it was so near, even though it was about to ram a metal hand into my body. Now, you see, one of the odd things about Gillchics, is their habit of not protecting their own vulnerabilities. Before it could hit me, I flipped open its chest cavity, and disconnected the power supply. Limp it fell, fall it limped. But then more came at me, so I ran behind the others, and watched them zap and shoot them to bits.

HuBBsDoctor looked at me like he wanted to know what I did. "Just what did you DO, Crankshaft?"

I stood matter of factly on my platform shoes, dusted off my shoulder, breathed on my nails and wiped them on my shirt. "It's simple, really. I opened up its chest cavity, and disconnected the power supply. Those things really aren't designed with the consideration that someone will get close to it. And of course, they topple easily because they're top-heavy-- Their battery is located in their chest cavity."

The group looked at each other in a state of impressment from my vast knowledge of these mechanical things. "Hey!" I said, "What did you expect? I am, after all, a professor of Mechanical Physics."

We carried onward, and I examined more things here. We came to a room containing a number of large, mean looking androids, known as Sinow Beats. A Sinow Beat is a very aggressive Security and Attack android. there are more advanced versions than the Sinow Beat, and its superior buddy, Sinow Gold, which also evidently inhabits the Mines, but they don't inhabit the Mines, as they are the result of some top-secret research that occurred on an island on Ragol, by the top scientists of Pioneer 1.

In any case, a Sinow Beat more or less looks like a beefed up gillchic that's had a superior casing added, consisting mostly of blades and spiky things. Effectively, it looks like someone glued a giant cheese grater on a lesser android. Indeed, that's a mean cheese grater.

Interestingly enough, what my adventurous companions didn't know, is that the technology that Sinow Beats were developed on, actually started as a design for a children's 'fighting robot' kind of a game that, when its deranged developers realized what they were making, decided to abandon the toy industry in favor of the security industry.

So, my friends weren't surprised when I disappeared from the fray, but they were surprised when one of the Sinow Beats started fighting on their, and belly dancing. I had, as any obscenely intelligent and well informed FOnewmn such as myself would, cracked into a computer terminal and took over the Sinow Beat, myself.

Controlling it, I made my own sound effects when it hit things, by yelling noises like, "Clank!" "Smack!" "Kerchunk!" and my personally favorite, "SHA-BOW-WOW!" Of course, I couldn't keep the Sinow Beat under my control forever. Eventually I would have to relinquish it, at which point Vol Opt would take over again, and it would continue to go wild. So I had it pose dramatically and belly dance, to give the others an opportunity to destroy it. I had to yell at them though, "Break the stupid thing!" because they were just standing there looking at it, as though it were a dancing robot or something.

When that was all finished with, there were the obvious questions of, "What the heck did you do?" and "How did you do that?" Except for VanGarrett, who said, "Y'know, I've never been able to get that to work." VanGarrett evidently knew a little bit.

Our trip had to be canceled, however, as VanGarrett soon recieved some simple mail. "Holy crap..." he said.

I pranced about, "What is it? What is it?" and tried to look at the screen on the terminal he had on his arm.

"HuBBsDoctor," he said, "We've got some work to do on Pioneer 2, it seems."

HuBBsDoctor looked at him expectingly, and I posed dramatically. "What's up, boss?" HuBBsDoctor said.

"The Principal wants to speak to us about a specially commissioned job," claimed the gallant VanGarrett.

I poked my finger into his face and said, "The Principal wants YOU specifically? Why's that?"

VanGarrett grabbed my finger, and much to my own distress, he pulled it off into some direction that he preferred it point. Which hurt. "HuBBsDoctor and I are among a number of hunters that the Principal will call for by name when there's a problem. Evidently, this task calls for rangers, so he chose from the Ranger portion of the list. Just the same, it's good for us, because performing jobs for him like this will improve our reputation."

"Ow!" I said, and liberated my finger from his hand. "I see. I think." So with that, the rangers left, and I looked at Dux, and Dux looked at me. I reached into my pocket, and pulled out the disk. I held it above my head and waved it about. "Hey Dux, have you ever seen a disk like this?!?"

Dux snatched it from my hand, and looked over it. "I can't say that I have. It's no technique disk, and it's not a typical data disk, either. Certainly not something you want to drop in your video disk viewer, either, just to cover all the bases."

Which, that was about what I thought about it. "That's about what I thought about it," I said. I continued, "Think we can find a computer here that can read it?"

Dux looked at me blankly for a moment, looked at the disk, then handed it back, "We can look, I suppose, but the disks that I've commonly seen in use here don't look like that. They're usually physically larger. We can look, though."

To sum it up, we didn't find anything and there was some cursing involved. That was the last time I'd gone down to Ragol for a while. The next time I went down, however, I had finally convinced Laya to go with me.

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