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The Recollection Of Meira

Chapter 10


Entering the second section of the Mines was kind of spooky. This is where the real meat and potatoes of Osto-Hyle Labs' work was done. The place was wrecked. The basic architecture was nonetheless the same, but lifts were broken, light-up panels flashed and sparked, there were dents in the walls, and so on and so forth.

We ventured into the first room presented to us. Here, we were met by a group of Dubchics. Dubchics are a more advanced model of Gillchics. They're designed without internal logic processors, instead taking all of their commands from a remote control unit, which usually hovers high above. The intent of this advanced design, was to send them into areas that are too dangerous for Gillchics. See, in a good mine, there is constantly the chance that something might fall and destroy the robot. Because of this, measures have to be taken around this. To armor them so that they wouldn't fall apart would make them too heavy to move, or too big to maneuver in the small passages they may encounter. So, an alternative method is assumed. Instead of the robots being designed to withstand injury, they're designed to fall apart when damaged, then put themselves back together.

Using a technology based on electro-magnetism, a Dubchic's torso can magnetically recall its head, arms, and even its legs, back to the locations they are normally attached to. Because the connection is magnetic in and of itself, no screws or other binding devices are necessary. In fact, the part that the torso calls back doesn't even necessarily have to be its own. This makes Dubchics a lot of trouble for Hunters who encounter them, because a massive amount of damage has to be done to them, before they will admit defeat.

Zeirom had fought many Dubchics in his time, however. He knew how to defeat them quickly, and as a ranger, he had the capacity to do so. At first, Dragoon, Lynn, and I all started to lay in on the Dubchics. Dragoon grabbed one and started swinging it around. This is when I first observed their technique of literally pulling themselves back together after they've been broken down. Zeirom just made a sigh of dissatisfaction. "You're wasting your time!" he yelled at us, then pointed his rifle at a saucer-like device floating near the ceiling. With precise aim, he destroyed its power supply, causing it to fall to the floor and smash into a billion pieces. "Now get away from them!" he yelled.

Lynn and I heeded his advice, but Dragoon stood there in the middle of a rough circle of them. "Dragoon! Get out of there! You are in danger!" Zeirom yelled at him.

Dragoon looked at Zeirom and shrugged. "I'm not in danger."

"Dragoon! The Dubchics are going to explode!"

"I'm not in danger."

Just then I saw the Dubchics, slumped over, and starting to spark. Zeirom was right. When these things stop, they explode.

"Dragoon, you fool! These androids are specifically designed for mining! When they can no longer receive a signal from the control unit, they self-destruct to clear any debris from the path!"

"Zeirom, you fool! I ha--" Dragoon was cut off by the explosion of the Dubchics. Shrapnel was flung about, and we all watched the pile of parts where Dragoon was standing. No movement. The three of us approached it.

I called for him. "Dragoon??" I shouted. When there was no response, I started to try to pull things out from on top of him. Before I could get anything moved, though, I heard something, and there was a flash underneath the pile.

Zeirom warned us, "Back off everyone... We don't know what that was..."

As we backed away, there was a shuffling underneath the pile, soon followed by a sudden upheaval of things. Dragoon burst out from beneath the pile, like a pissed off Hildebear bursting out from underneath a pile of dead Boomas. I believe that he made a machine-equivalent noise as he did this, too.

With bright yellow sparks fluttering about him, he posed dramatically, swaying back and forth, in the center of this pile of parts. His MAG, which resembled an old video game console, was beeping and flashing, and otherwise going nuts. Meanwhile, electric sparks flew from his joints and various panels. He would have been grinning, were he able to do so.

He twitched slightly as he reached into his inventory, and procured a trimate, which he clumsily consumed. Momentarily, the sparks from his joints stopped, and he stood firm again. He climbed over the parts, and pat Zeirom on the head. "I just received enough damage to bring me near death, and my MAG gained a photon burst. For the next several minutes, I shall be invulnerable."

Zeirom eyed Dragoon. "Invulnerable, huh?" Dragoon stood and nodded. I don't think Dragoon saw it coming, when Zeirom's fist rammed into his face. Dragoon fell on his butt, but promptly got up and dusted himself off. "You take your invulnerability, and you and Lynn head through that East door there," Zeirom pointed to the door he spoke of. "Meira and I will go through the North door. We'll meet up later. And Dragoon... If you ever do that again, I will knock you out and rewire your logic circuit."

Dragoon shrugged, then ran over to Lynn. "Com'on, Lynn! I'll be your cannon fodder!" Lynn giggled, and with that, they ran through the East door.

Zeirom walked up to me. "Ready to move on, Meira?" he asked.

"Sure, I s'pose," I replied. "Did Dragoon really irritate you that much?"

"Not really. But I've done a lot of combat with Dragoon, and I've found that if someone doesn't smack him around every once in a while, he gets to thinking that he's the real muscle of the group, and he'll start pushing the others around. Just be glad I won't let him use his Spread Needle."

With that, he proceeded into the next room, and I followed him. As we entered the room, we saw a huge tank-like machine. "That's no security device..." Zeirom slowly and lowly pronounced as it turned to face us, hovering a few centimeters above the ground, using powerful jets to keep it there. It looked at us, and we looked at it. Then Zeirom's voice increased by a few decibels, "That's a war machine!"

The machine let itself lower to the ground, and then it anchored itself. "It, um, is attaching itself to the ground, Zeirom."

"It's a Garantz, Meira. It only anchors itself to the ground for one thing, and one thing only."

"What's that?"

"It's going to launch missiles at us."

"It's... What?"

"Going to launch missiles at us."

"And we're standing here... why?"

"Because it'll only launch more at us if we run."

"So, um, shoot it! You're a tank! Make it go boom!"

Then the missile turrets opened, soon after, several fairly slow-moving, small target surface-to-surface missiles launched. They didn't move fast, but they weren't intended to. They're short-range missiles, after all. Zeirom tossed down his rifle, then jumped in front of me, and grabbed me. He picked me up, and more or less, hugged me. "I shall protect you, Meira!!"

"Um, Zeirom, what about you?" I said, then the missiles hit. Zeirom shook a little, but after the missiles had spend themselves, Zeirom quickly pulled out a high-end hand gun with a long barrel, and started shooting at it.

Somewhat mellow-dramatically, he cursed at the machine. Bits and pieces of its armor flew off. To my surprise, when the armor broke off, several more missile turrets were revealed. I emit an exclamatory at this, though I don't feel content to express what it was exactly. As the missiles launched, Zeirom cracked open a Star Atomizer, and sprayed it around us, before holding close onto me. The missiles hit again, and once again, after the explosion cleared, Zeirom turned around again, and started shooting.

He started to overcome it, and exclaimed a loud, "Ha ha ha ha! Die Garantz! Die! Die! Die! Die!" Until it finally toppled under its own weight. Zeirom continued to shoot it until a few times, until nothing was left glowing on it. Then he put his handgun away, and walked over to me.

He grabbed my shoulders, and with great care he asked, "Are you all right? You're not hurt, are you?" When he finished asking that, he started checking over my arms and my hips, and he looked at my legs, and so forth.

"I'm just fine, Zeirom. You took all those missiles head on, you're the one that should be hurt from all this," I said.

"I suppose you're right. Oh, I must have some nasty burns on my back, could you take a look for me?"

"Sure, I suppose I could. Turn around, y'big lug." So he turned around, and I started to look at his back. There were a few panels loose, and I just kinda pushed those into place. I felt along a couple of cracks, and wiped off some soot. "Yeah, you're gonna need a trimate for this one, Zeirom."

"Ah, I'll just spray a Star Atomizer," and thus he did what he said, and sprayed a Star Atomizer into the air.

Then the Sinow Beats dropped down. As they approached us, Zeirom exclaimed, "Sinow Beats! Meira, I shall protect you!" Thus, he grabbed me again, and started shooting at them.

I pushed and shoved at him, "Dang it, Zeirom, I can handle a Sinow Beat, too, y'know!"

He never did let them get close, though. They'd try to jump at us, but he'd shoot them out of the air, and if they ran toward us, he would just keep rotating which one he was aiming at, and they couldn't run fast enough to stay away from him. Plus, Zeirom did a tremendous job of aiming, and judging where they'd try to dodge when they saw a photon bullet coming at them. Not allowing myself to stay completely out of it, I stopped my futile struggle from Zeirom's grasp, and started casting Zonde techniques on them.

When they were all cleared, Zeirom put me down again, and once again asked me, "Are you all right? They didn't hurt you, did they?"

I told him, "I'm just fine, Zeirom! They never got close, and you were shielding me the whole time!" Then he started checking me for injuries again.

"You caste an awful lot of techniques, here I picked up this trifluid a while ago." He opened a trifluid, and handed it to me. I didn't really feel like I needed it, but he'd opened it and given it to me, so I felt obligated to go ahead and drink it.

A buzzing sound brushed passed me, and Zeirom started looking around. "A fly!" he yelled. "Meira! I shall save you!"

He went to grab me again, but I jumped away. "Hold on, Zeirom! I can HANDLE this one! Gee..."

I located the fly, then waited for just the right moment, at which point, I slapped it against the armor plating on Zeirom's arm, then promptly wiped it off. "Now Zeirom," I said, "Please don't just grab me like that over the slightest thing. I really appreciate that you want to keep me safe and all, and it's very gentlemanly of you, and I'm flattered that you would be so concerned, but please, let me fight, too, okay? If I'm hurt, I can use Resta, or a Trimate, and I'll be fine."

Zeirom chuckled, "All right then, Meira."

We heard echoes of Dragoon's whoops and hollers a few rooms down, looked at each other, and carried on. A few rooms full of Dubchics, Gillchics, and Canadines later, we stopped to rest. He stood and went into a low-power mode, and I sat down on the edge of the platform we were on, and hung my legs over the edge.

I decided to make conversation. "So why did Lynn insist on not going alone with you when we split up, anymore? You've been very nice, so far."

"She believes that I'm a pervert. Dunno why."

"What's a pervert?"

"A, uh, pervert, Meira, hmm... Well, I suppose a pervert is someone who tries to do, um, 'naughty' things without anyone noticing."

"Well that's strange. I haven't seen you do anything naughty."

"Really, why would I? I'm a machine, after all. Through and through."

"What does that have to do with being naughty, and getting intro trouble?"

After I asked that, Zeirom got a strange look on his face. I might say surprise, but it may be a little bit of him just barely realizing something, too. In any case, after that, he powered up and said, "All right, let's get going."

"All right, Zeirom," I said, as I turned and got back up on my feet. The room we'd wandered into to rest was a dead end, so we trekked back across the room we'd gone through before that, and went through a different door, to find Dragoon and Lynn waiting for us.

"Guys, be careful," Lynn warned. "After Dragoon's invulnerability wore off, he got hit really hard, and hasn't been quite right since."

"Um, what happened, Lynn?" asked Zeirom.

"I think a circuit board from a Gillchic got lodged in his head, just before he used a Trimate... He's been acting real strange."

Dragoon broke into the conversation with a few choice words of his own, "I want to hurt something big."

Zeirom shrugged. "He seems to be working just fine to me."

Zeirom's confidence re-assured me, so I shrugged it off, as well. We started walking for the next door. "The gateway to Vol Opt's control room should be just a couple of rooms that way."

We proceeded into the next room. We were met by two Garantz, a Sinow Gold, and a pair of Gillchics. Before anything could be said, I called out, "I got the Sinow Gold!" With that, I rushed out after it.

Much like my fight with the Sinow Beat, my fight with the Sinow Gold was a long trek of dodges and parries. We both charged each other. As I ran, I put away my Slicer, and drew my daggers. As my blades ignited, I redirected one of the Sinow Gold's blades away from my face. It did catch my shoulder just slightly, but it didn't bother me. Cut my shirt, and gouged a bit of skin, but I was otherwise just fine. This time, I knew how to confront one of these machines, in hand-to-hand combat.

It came back around to slash at me again, but I turned to step into it. After its arm went right by me, I continued to turn, grabbing its wrist. As I thrust it forward, I locked my dagger's trigger in to the 'on' position, and tossed it between the two of us. I leaned forward as I tugged on the Sinow Gold's arm, and as I did so, I brought a foot up, and caught the hilt of the dagger, just in time to kick the blade into the Sinow Gold's chest. This caught the machine off guard, so it went with the momentum I had started to create in it, and jumped in the direction that I was pulling its arm.

As it went by me, I claimed my dagger from its chest, and jerked it out, causing as much damage as I could. It landed on its feet, however, clutched its chest for a moment, then stood straight, and formally pressed a button on its arm. The Sinow Gold was engulfed in the mist of a Star Atomizer for a moment, and the hold I had pierced in it was mostly closed. It stalked toward me again.

I took an aggressive stance with my daggers at the ready. It came at me with both blades drawn. It attempted to swing them at me, raking them across each other like a pair of scissors, but I went low, and rolled underneath its blades. While it was still leaning forward, and moving, coming out of the roll, I thrust my legs upward, into its chin. Its arms still locked into that position, I sprung into the air, and caught a foothold on its wrists, from which point, I jumped again. This time, I flipped and turned to face the direction it was facing, as I landed on its shoulders. Rather than seriously trying to stay up there as it struggled, I crouched quickly, and embedded my daggers on either side of its head. With that, I held onto the daggers, and dropped behind it to let gravity do the rest.

The Sinow Gold was sliced up quite well, and the mount for its head was damaged beyond what any Star Atomizer could ever heal. It twitched a little, as it lay on the ground, but it was down for the count, nonetheless.

As I looked up from this wreckage, I could see that the Gillchics were down. Sliced apart, probably by Lynn's sword. At that present moment, Lynn and Zeirom were finishing off the Garantz closest to the door we entered through. Dragoon was unloading his supply of grenades on the second Garantz, though he seemed to be using them as more of a counter measure against the Garantz' missiles, while he hacked away with the Sinow Beat's blades he'd taken.

Finally, in an act of apparent frustration, I heard Dragoon yell, "Open that DOOR you blasted inferior robot!" just before he took a step back, and screamed as he charged into it, shoulder first, and rammed it dead through the door behind it, in a most obscenely loud manner.

The loud sounds of metal crunching against metal, and a number of sparks and small explosions came from the next room, as we approached it. There was electrical smoke wafting out the newly augmented doorway, and we waved it by, as we peered inside to see Dragoon pounding away at what was left of the core of the Garantz, as though he were some sort of deranged ape on a rampage. He seemed to finally be satisfied, when he'd crushed it to about a third of its original size. After that, he straightened up, and stood all straight and proper.

We'd become accustomed to his rampaging fits of destruction, but after seeing him ram a machine no less than six times his weight through a door it rightfully shouldn't have fit through, we were amazed, nonetheless. Dragoon truly was built for the express purpose of producing the maximum possible destructive energy in a single attack.

Zeirom pointed at a teleporter gate. "The entrance to Vol Opt's control room is right there," he said. We all nodded, and proceeded to it, but before we ran in, Zeirom stopped. "We'd better head to town and replenish ourselves, first." We all concurred, and used our telepipes and Ryuker techniques. Quick jogs to replenish supplies of 'mates and 'fluids, then a trot over to the hospital to heal our wounds, and revitalize us took all of 3 minutes, then we were back down to the entrance of Vol Opt's Control Room.

We all stepped into the teleporter, and activated it. Soon after, we were standing in the room. Alarms sounded, and a large electrical probe lowered from the ceiling. Semitransparent monitors lined the walls, and behind them, a large sensory device traveled around, collecting information on our locations.

Lynn and I attacked the thing behind the consoles, while Zeirom shot out the probe at the ceiling. Dragoon, on the other hand, didn't seem quite right. He put a hand to his forehead, and paused for a moment. The sensory device soon hid, and a number of columns raised from the ground to act as lightning rods for the electrical probe, and assault us with ice and fire bursts. Dragoon took this opportunity to, in a fit of rage, rip the columns from the floor, and throw them into the monitor screens, yelling, "No! No, I won't!" I didn't understand why he said that.

He tore another from the floor, and threw it as well, but this time, batting down another first, again, yelling, "I won't do it! You can't make me! Nooo!!" He was, indeed, experiencing some great personal frustration.

The columns descended back into the floor, but Dragoon grabbed one, and prevented it from closing, tearing it out. When the sensory device re-appeared, he crammed the column into it, destroying it thoroughly. I could sense a very dark presence, as the room began to explode. The monitors popped, and the air pressure of the room decreased ever so slightly.

As a large device descended from the ceiling, that sense of a dark presence only grew. I recalled that I felt that presence ever so slightly, when confronting De Rol Le, but it was no where near as strong then as it was at this point.

As it lowered down, Dragoon felt to his knees, and clutched his head. He screamed as loud as he could, a horrendous cry of, "Nooooooo!!!" before he finally collapsed.

I ran over to Dragoon, yelling for him, "Dragoon!" His eyes were blinking and fading in color. When I kneeled down next to him, I felt that same dark energy coming from him. His eyes started to glow with ultra-violet light, and I backed off. Something wasn't right.

"Vol Opt must've taken control over him!" Lynn yelled. "Destroy Vol Opt, and he'll be okay!" Just at this point, Dragoon attacked me.

He threw a backhand at me, but I clumsily ducked underneath it. He brought his fists together, and swung down at me, but I jumped to one side. His fists slammed into the floor, crushing a part of it, and causing metal to splinter all about.

Vol Opt started to shoot tracking lasers all about the room. I notice Lynn and Zeirom run by, just as Dragoon grabbed me by the shoulders. The ultra-violet lights behind his eyes glowed more intensely, as he slammed me into the ground, and a tracking laser settled in on my forehead. I saw a heavy metal object, almost like a large pillar, center in above me. It had me located, and now Vol Opt was going to crush me!

I wiggled to try to escape from Dragoon's grasp, but he held even tighter than Zeirom. I could feel the circulation to my arms being cut off. My mind was devoid of ideas on how to escape. I had a full-ton machine holding me to the floor, and something that was undoubtedly heavier about to come down and turn my head into a greasy spot.

The universe seemed to slow down for a moment. When you realize that you're probably going to die, you gain a strange sense of clarity. Something evil was present in Vol Opt, and it had continued to infect Dragoon. I was going to die, and I hadn't even found Randon, yet. But that was why I had gone down to Ragol, wasn't it? I had to find Randon, right?

As the hammer dropped, I remembered that I still had a mission. I had to get to the Ruins, because that's where Randon went, and I could let anything stop me. This fight with Vol Opt, and yet with Dragoon as well, was the only thing between me and the place that Randon was last known to have been.

The hammer sped toward my head, and with more force than I had ever exerted in my life, I lifted my legs off the ground, and more or less, curled up into a fetal position underneath Dragoon. With a strange amount of force and speed, that I had never known I was capable of, and I'm sure that I may never be capable of again, I suddenly rammed my feet into Dragoon's gut, and lifted him off the ground.

Just in time, I slid underneath him, and pushed him over me. The hammer came down, and slammed into Dragoon behind his shoulders. There, it kept pushing, but Dragoon withheld it, until the huge rod that it was attached to, finally broke, and the hammer fell off to one side.

I stood to watch this, but my legs suddenly felt weak. I could hardly stand, and my arms weren't much better, just barely regaining their normal color, after having become almost purple.

Dragoon stood up slowly, and turned to me. At this, I understood how he truly was, as a machine. He was virtually unstoppable. The only thing was, my life depended on me stopping him. Lynn and Zeirom were still assaulting Vol Opt, frantically trying to disable it, so that it would relinquish its control over Dragoon. I feared that Vol Opt wouldn't be defeated quickly enough, and Dragoon was charging toward me right then.

I went to slash at his gut with my daggers, but he blocked with his blades. At the moment, my arms were in no position to try to overpower his, and even if I had tried to hold him back, there was no way that I could. He backhanded me again, and I flew across the room, where I slammed into the wall. I consider it a miracle that my neck didn't break. The Great Light was surely watching out for me. At this point, I was convinced that I wasn't fighting Dragoon, but The Profound Darkness, itself. Dragoon had, after all, proven himself to be none other than, somewhat of a god of destruction, causing harm even to the machine that was controlling him.

Dragoon, seeing that I wasn't yet dead, charged after me again. Fighting Dragoon is no laughing matter. Because of his combination of weight, strength, and speed, the traditional concepts of using your opponent's momentum against him become warped and of no use. Because he's in complete control of everything he does, with the precision of a high-powered computer, all you can hope to do is lock him into a situation where only you can reap an advantage.

I did still have one advantage over him. As fast as he is, I am still faster, even though my legs were still a little woozy. So I could out maneuver him, and I did, as he punched and kicked at me, but I still had to figure out how I could damage him. All I could really do was dodge and parry.

He threw one punch after another, and tried to stunt my movement by performing several different strategies of attack all at once. I did come up with an idea, though. Getting hopeful, seeing that he is such a destructive force, I tried to bring him into range of Vol Opt, in hopes that I could get him to hit that. As hammers hit down and missiles flew, I did get him to hit Vol Opt a couple of times, but I couldn't get him to do what I really wanted him to, and that was to rip off a piece of Vol Opt to throw at me.

I couldn't stay so close to Vol Opt forever, though. As it began to turn, I had to move away from it, and Dragoon got me caught against a wall. He held me by my neck against the wall, and my feet dangled. I was choking, when he drew back his fist. I'd come this far, but I knew that this couldn't be the end. I'd proven a good fight for him, but if he killed me, then that would be it. There would be no bringing me back.

If I couldn't be brought back, then I couldn't go to the Ruins to find Randon, and that just wasn't acceptable. I had to find Randon, and at that moment, Dragoon was the largest obstacle to that... and I hated him for it. I could feel the hate, frustration and anger welling up inside me, just as the tears were welling up in my eyes. I didn't like the feeling that Dragoon was causing me to have, but that only fueled it more. I had never been so incredibly angry in my life.

That's when it happened. Dragoon was just about to throw his punch, when I shoved my hands at him, and from me, burst this wretched black ball of energy. This horrible ball of hate, anger, and frustration. I couldn't stand it, I had to let it out. Thus, I spilled it all onto Dragoon, and as the ball passed through him, his eyes grew dark once more. His fist lowered, and his grip loosened. I fell to the ground, and Dragoon toppled over, lifeless. Dragoon was killed, by my first burst of the dark technique, Megid.

I was shocked that I could do such a thing to Dragoon. He had become my friend, and we even went to the zoo together! But now was not the time to deal with this. If I had to place blame for Dragoon's death, I had to place it on Vol Opt.

Grabbing my daggers from the ground, I charged in at it, targeting a location behind a missile turret that Zeirom had just shot off. I slashed and stabbed at it, until between the three of us, we brought it down, and took it out of commission. Finally, it fell, and I stumbled backward, tired and otherwise worn. My legs were jello, my arms were sore, and my neck really really hurt. I caste Resta, but that did little more than heal my cuts and bruises. I was still, nonetheless, quite hurt.

"Zeirom..." I said, "Please take me home now." Zeirom didn't argue, and quickly came and caught me, as I collapsed into his arms. I wasn't unconscious yet, but I was darned close. From that haze, I remember going through the transporter with him, and I remember listening to his feet clank all the way back to my apartment. It was after he laid me down on my bed and I mumbled a thanks to him, that I finally passed out.

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