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The Recollection Of Meira

Chapter 5

In the next room of this labyrinth we call the Caves, we fought large groups of creatures classified as Altered Beasts. Zeirom picked off the living, poisonous Poison Lilies from the door with some variety of photon rifle, while Dragoon and I slayed the varying breeds of bipedal sharks that would mindlessly try to surround us and slash us to death. Meanwhile, Lynn took care of Nanodragons, by strategically placing herself in between them, so that when they shot off their beam attacks, she could simply sidestep in one direction, and watch each beam hit the opposing Nanodragon. Her expression through all that was oddly calm, but I didn't think anything of it.

Meanwhile, I got surrounded by Pal Sharks. Four of them. I frustratedly dodged left and right, up and down, around their blade-claw-fin things, until I finally got irritated enough that I jumped straight up, crammed a heel into one's forehead, and forward-flipped over the one directly in front of it, and came down on it from behind, tearing my photon daggers through its back. That shark dropped, and I proceeded on to the next three.

I immediately bought myself some time by tripping the shark on my left, stabbing a blade in its eye to throw it off balance. Then I took that same blade, this being the blade in my left hand, and slashed it through the chest of the shark directly in front of me (the one that got a heel to its forehead a moment ago), on its way to the throat of the shark on my right.

Slicing open the throat of the shark on my right with my left dagger, I continued to swing around, and finished off the shark in front of me with the business end of the dagger in my right hand, plunging it underneath the shark's chin, upward into what I always hoped was a vital organ.

By this time, the shark on my left had struggled back to its feet, so I took a couple of quick swipes across its chest and face, and finished it off with a boot to the gut, causing it to fall over face-first, into the ground, where it would quickly bleed to death.

Having finished that, I looked up just in time to see Dragoon throw an eighth Evil Shark into a corner. Then he emit a series of beeps. First three quick beeps, then two, then one, and finally, on rhythm, he did something that surprised all of us. Now, the beeps got the attention of all three of us, and this really kind of explained to us just as to why he was able to clear out rooms so quickly.

On rhythm with the beeps, his shoulders opened up, and a number of photon grenades shot out, into the air, and as if they'd been guided, they angled down at the corner containing the sharks, and shot at them. Each grenade hit in sequence, two or three at a time, until finally all the grenades had spent themselves, and only one Evil Shark was left, protected by the splattered remains of its brethren. It struggled to its feet, but its victory over the bombardment was short-lived, as Dragoon's shoulders immediately closed, and Dragoon charged in on the shark. Dragoon put his fist through the shark's chest, which pinned the shark to the wall until Dragoon pulled his arm back. When the shark fell to the ground, and Dragoon walked away, I took a good look at the wall, observing that his fist evidently made solid contact with the wall, as evidenced by the lung and ribs plastered to it, as well as the cracks in the rock behind them.

Dragoon hopped up the five or six stairs that lead up an incline in the room, and posed dramatically at the top of them. Zeirom, puzzled by Dragoon's maneuver with the sharks, stepped over to Dragoon, and at this time, pushed him out of his pose.

I personally think that Zeirom was just a little jealous at this point. He said to him, "Dragoon, just what in the Abyss was that?" On the other hand, maybe he really was just confused.

Dragoon was still giddy. All excited and as if he were an old man from a better time, he said, "I'm an older model than you are, Zeirom. Much older. Back in my day, androids used to have neat gadgets like that, that they could find. Most of you young bucks just have a grenade dropper, to set your bombs and ice traps. Well me, I'm older. Back in my day, we didn't HAVE floating traps! Uh-uh! Noooo way! If we wanted to drop a bomb at a range that wouldn't hit us, we had to LAUNCH them. So that's what I've got. I've got a multi-barrel grenade launcher in each shoulder. With the Burst Rock hardware driver, I can shoot off sixteen grenades at a time, and I've got the storage and auto-loader to reload 4 times, before I have to make a run to the City to restock. Now, you newer models, bah, you guys were built 'economically,' or so they say. Instead of launching bombs, you just drop them. Cheaper to build, but no where NEAR as fun!"

Zeirom shrugged. "Were all the models from your time as blood thirsty as you, too?" he asked.

Dragoon took on a stoic pose, and looked up at the ceiling, as though it weren't there. He said, "I was the first and last of my breed," as if it meant that he was some holy relic from a time forgotten.

Just then, Lynn walked up to me. It seems she'd been watching me, when I took down the group of Pal Sharks that had surrounded me. "Meira," she said, "How did you learn to fight like that?"

I was bewildered by her interest, but shrugged it off. "Fight like what?" I said.

"You took on those Pal Sharks like you were playing with them. I mean, you were even giggling toward the end there."

"I was?"

"Yes, you were. Your technique was excellent, by the way. I'm sure that if you were to go on like that for too long, you'd get rather tired, but it was not only very flashy, but just as effective, too. I like that," she claimed. She smirked, and I looked at her funny. She finished with, "I'm going to have to keep an eye on your progress." So I looked at her funny some more, then watched as she winked at me, turned around, and walked in the general direction of the androids.

As she walked by, both androids looked at her. Lynn walked behind Zeirom, and as she walked by, she raised her hand, to run it along the back of his head. From there, she continued to saunter toward the next unlocked door, which led into a little room.

When her hand left his head-- and, I swear, I have never seen an android do this before, especially not a big tank like Zeirom-- When her hand left his head, he actually jumped, then jerked his head around, arms part-way outstretched, palms facing toward the ground, like a kitten who'd just been dropped to the floor after receiving a good pet in someone's arms.

At about this point, Dragoon made a dash for the locked door, and arrived at it just as Lynn hit the button in the other room to unlock it. On the other side of it, was a short hallway which leads to a huge room; in which, the floor was a huge metal grate, for the most part, suspended above a river of molten lava. It was, to say the least, rather hot in this segment of the Caves. Putting second thoughts aside, we all charged in, and cleared the room of its unnatural inhabitants. Dragoon amused himself by uprooting Poison Lilies, and depositing them in the lava.

It scared me when I realized that I did this, but I eventually teamed up with Dragoon in slaughtering Guil Sharks. We'd each grab one, and ram them into each other, or we'd both grab the same one, and use it like a bowling ball to ram two or three others over the railing on the edge of the floor. I even helped him stuff one through the holes in the grate. I had to say it, but I actually had fun. Well, at least, until Dragoon mounted himself on the back of a Nanodragon and, ended up riding it across the room, trying to strangle it. Honestly, they would make a good mount, if they could be tamed. It was able to fly quite easily, even with Dragoon on its back.

Dragoon finally made it back to the ground, but not until Zeirom shot down the Nanodragon. It was evident that Dragoon was trying to aim the falling beast at the large spout-ish hole thing in the middle of the platform, and his aim was just about right, until he jumped off, and thereby pushed it off course. Its grand collision with the platform rammed its head through it. We were all surprised. Noticing the dents in the floor where Dragoon's feet planted themselves, we all agreed that it would be best to move on as quickly as possible.

The Caves are a huge location. The total explored area contains three levels, each one bigger than both halves of the Central Dome's courtyards, combined. Furthermore, each level is a different complex of corridors and chambers, each chamber filled with variations of the local creatures. To make matters even worse, there are no less than six different entry points for each complex, each entry point dealing with its own segment of the level.

Each level has its own unique features, and each serves a unique purpose. The first level was used to harvest rock resources, and metals. It was eventually abandoned, for all the dangerous creatures that one way or another, made their way in. At first the resource gatherers thought they could contain the creatures, by installing a system of sensors and door locks, which checked for life forms with the specific properties that gave them away as being Altered Beast class, and locked the 1-foot thick, solid steel doors, if they were present. Access to certain areas was also restricted by laser bars, but those often did nothing for keeping the monsters out.

As the story goes, it supposedly worked for a while, until the creatures made their own entrances into the rooms, by burrowing, or finding cracks big enough for them to squeeze through. The resource gatherers were forced to abandon their mines in the caves, but many of them still died in the process. Many of our culture's people have already died on Ragol, indeed.

By the time we finally found the teleporter that had been laid down in this segment of the first level of the Caves, it was getting late. We were faced with the question of whether or not we should call it a night, and all go home to get some rest. Except for Dragoon, who was faced with a helmet fashioned out of a Grass Assassin's head.

Zeirom looked at Lynn and myself. He said, "All right, you two. When night falls on Ragol, the more dangerous monsters come out to play, and this forces the weaker monsters to run and hide. You'll find that the Grass Assassins have been replaced with Crimson Assassins, which will breath liquid nitrogen on you, and freeze you, rather than stick you to the floor with energy webbing. All the Evil Sharks and Pal Sharks, you'll find, have been driven away by the Booma's cousins, Vulmer and Govulmer. Worse yet, at night, Poison Lilies adjust, and become Ob Lilies, which don't waste time poisoning you, but rather, they've developed to use our own Megid technique. Also, by this time, the Nanodragons have eaten, so they'll be stronger, too. Now, do you two believe that you can handle this, or do you want to call it a day, and go rest until tomorrow morning?"

To make a longer story shorter, after some questioning and deliberation, Lynn and I decided that the best idea would be to remove the Grass Assassin's head from Dragoon's own, then proceed into the second level of the Caves.

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