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The Recollection Of Meira

Chapter 6


In the first level of the Caves, Lynn had been marveling at how much Dragoon and I actually worked together to kill things, and what intrigued her most, was that I would actually lay the parting blow on more creatures than he would. Or at least, this is what she'd told me, before we went into the second level of the Caves.

The second level of the Caves was a vast departure from the first level. The first level of the Caves was hot, and dry. The second level, on the other hand, was cool, and humid. Because of the humidity, the local monsters found the area to be more pleasant, and therefore, there were simply more of them. Dragoon loved this, though I, personally, found myself getting tired quicker. Nonetheless, I managed to keep up with him.

This second level of the Caves was a natural occurrence. The surveyor team had decided that the whole place must've been carved out of the rock, by a network of underground rivers and streams, which have since, mostly drained off, though there are still waterfalls and ponds here and there.

Explorers down there have rigged up corridors with the same system of sensors and doors that was in the first level of the Caves had. In fact, all three levels of the Caves have this system set up. Thanks to the system, very few explorers had to lose their lives, as the system let them know where it was safe to go without an escort of hunters, and where it wasn't.

Most of the smaller rooms consisted of a pool of water, maybe two centimeters deep, at the deepest. The larger caverns generally had pools around the edges of the room that would suddenly drop off to several meters in depth, while the middle portion of the area would be raised above the level of the water. Some of these larger rooms are absolutely beautiful. One in particular, contains waterfalls on the left and right walls as you enter, and a hole in the ceiling which goes clear up to the surface. The result is that the light shining through creates an astonishing rainbow effect near the ceiling, and beams of light shooting down and all around from all over the place, reflecting off of the water, illuminating the spray of the falls, and so forth. If it weren't for the danger of investigating this area, I'd say it would be a wonderful place for anyone to visit.

Once teleporter dumped us into the second level of the Caves, we proceeded onward, but not until I had cast Shifta and Deband techniques on us all, making us hit harder and providing each of us with a dense field of air to soften the hits we take, respectively. Shifta basically just gives your photon weapons a little extra electrical charge (androids, too!), and it also gives Humans and Newmans a nice little adrenaline rush.

In the first room we entered, we encountered a Crimson Assassin, a couple of Vulmers, and an Ob Lily in each corner. During the skirmish, Lynn was narrowly missed by several bursts of Megid, which I could've sworn should've hit her, while a Crimson Assassin froze me once. By the time I thawed out, Dragoon, Lynn, and Zeirom had cleaned out the room, and we carried on.

The next room we entered, contained a single enemy, which caused us to all stand back, and watch, in amusement, Dragoon's frustration. The creature was a slime. A Pofuilly Slime, to be exact. The particular brand of attack that a Pofuilly Slime has, is to swish around on the floor, until it feels safe, and then it will condense the substance that constitutes its body into a vaguely dragon-ish, or maybe snake-ish shape, then either launch a peculiar ball of energy, or whack you with a tail that it materializes from a portion of itself which it has moved to be right next to you.

Well, Dragoon's technique to combat these, is to run around, and try to stomp on it, to cause it to diffuse into the water. This technique didn't, however, work. We all watched in an odd combination of horror, amusement, and amazement, as Dragoon chased the thing around the room, jumping up and down on it, and jabbing it with random weapons he'd picked up here and there along the trip. He yelled, and he screamed, and furthermore, he cursed dramatically.

Finally, on a near pass, Zeirom grabbed him, and pulled him into the doorway. "WAIT, Dragoon," he said. "The slime will condense itself into a body if it feels it safe to attack, so just wait, and you'll be able to actually HURT it." Honestly, I don't know how Dragoon has ever killed any of these things, without Zeirom there to give him advice.

In supermarkets and general stores, they sometimes have little vending machines that dispense small toys, when you pop a meseta or two in, and turn the crank. Among these toys, you sometimes get a little plastic figure, or maybe a bouncy ball. Sometimes, though, in some of the neater vending machines, you might get a wad of slime that is claimed to be "liquid metal," or the even higher prized, "Sticky Hand". A Sticky Hand is basically just a gooey little wad of a jelly-like material that smells funny, but will stretch waaaaay across a room, ultimately to stick to a wall, until you jerk it to bring it back. Now, you're wondering where I'm going with this.

Well, when the Slime stood up, so to speak, Dragoon ran out into the room, and waited for it to try to hit him with its tail. When it did, Dragoon grabbed the appendage, and jerked the whole slime off the floor, then repeatedly swung it into the door, until its weight had both killed it and busted the door open. The shriek that Dragoon emitted while doing this indicated to all of us, just how much he really enjoyed this. From that point forward, for the rest of our trip through the second level of the Caves, he had a new weapon for himself.

The next room was a large, dimly lit area, with two other doors. As we walked in, we saw a Crimson Assassin on the other side of the room. Upon seeing this, Dragoon said to the group, "Hey! Watch this!" At this point, he swung the slime over his head by its tail, and once he felt he'd built up enough inertia with it, he swung it in the general direction of said Crimson Assassin. The slime stretched all the way across the room, and upon hitting the Crimson Assassin, it clung to it. Having captured the large mantis, Dragoon jerked the slime back, and through the combination of the slime's elasticity and the strength of Dragoon's jerk, the Crimson Assassin flew through the air. The flight of the beast was guided by Dragoon, where it splattered against the wall, and remained there for a while after Dragoon wiggled the slime off. Amidst all this, was Dragoon's exclamation of "Woohoo!"

Dragoon would later clear lines of Vulmers and Govulmers by snagging the one in the back with the slime, and dragging it into the rest of them. Dragoon had great fun doing this, and giggled strangely every time he did. Yes, Dragoon can indeed be the slightest bit disturbing at times.

In addition to the Vulmers and Govulmers that appeared in this room, a few Ob Lilies also came out of hiding. Zeirom was unfortunate enough to be nailed by a burst of the Ob Lilies' devastating rendition of the Megid technique, but luckily, I was able to return a spark to his battery life, with a good casting of Reverser. After seeing that, Lynn cast the hugest burst of Megid I have ever seen in my life, and thus, left two Ob Lilies dead from their own medicine.

Here, we broke into two couples. Zeirom and Lynn took one door, while Dragoon and I took the other. After Dragoon and I had torn our way through several rooms, flipped a number of switches, and stood on enough buttons, we unlocked a door and joined back up with Zeirom and Lynn. But we did have a conversation, when we'd stopped to rest along the way, after clearing a room with a huge waterfall.

"Dragoon?" I said. "Just why are you so blood thirsty, anyway?"

He sloshed his slime around, and shrugged. "Just the way my AI was programmed, I guess. I've always been out for the kill. Though, at first, I killed anything and everything-- including the family of one of the guys that built me."

I drew back for a moment, and then questioned him some more. "You killed someone's family? Why? What keeps you from doing that sort of thing now?" I asked.

"Well... To keep it simple, I'm smarter now, so to speak. You see, I was built as sort of a prototype war machine that would kill on sight. When the researchers turned me on for the first time, it was shortly before noon, and the family of one of them was waiting in the next room, too join him for lunch. There was a window into that room, and they were the first thing I saw. So, naturally, my simple AI ordered me to kill them as quickly as possible. I killed two or three other researchers, and critically injured several others, before they finally got me turned off. That's what inspired them to append my AI with an algorithm that would differentiate between what needs to be killed, and what doesn't. Of course, if something threatens me, I'll still attack, no matter what they are, unless something can stop me, before I carry out the death sentence."

"Remind me never to piss you off, Dragoon."

"Never piss me off."

"Thanks."

When we met back up with Zeirom and Lynn, Zeirom was carrying Lynn over his shoulder, securing her there with a firmly placed hand on her backside. We met in the center of the room, and he promptly put her down. "I ran out of Moon Atomizers. Reverser this fool, Meira!"

I looked at him strangely for a moment, then went ahead and used the Reverser technique on Lynn. While Lynn was trying to gather herself, I looked at Zeirom and asked, "What happened to her?"

"Her little trick with the Nanodragons backfired on her," he replied. If his metal face could smirk, I'm sure it would've been at this point.

Lynn got back to her feet, and stumbled a bit, before a gentle casting of Resta, which actually seemed to hurt her to pull off, for some reason. I would imagine that she was just in pain at the time. After all, she was nearly dead, just a moment before. She turned to Zeirom, and glared. "Did you pick up my weapon, Zeirom?"

"Do you think THAT little of my integrity?" Zeirom said, as he leaned over her. "Here, take it back, I could use the room in my pack”, he said, as he passed an unignited sword to her. Lynn had it re-ignited almost as soon as it was back in her hand. She then promptly pushed his head away from her.

We looked up, and Dragoon was gone. Evidently, he chased a dragonfly off into the next room, trying to smoosh it between his fingers. Again, another chase after Dragoon. We caught up with him in the next room, though. He was smacking a strange looking, insect-like creature, known as a Melqueek. Actually, insect-like a Melqueek is, they remind me more of some bizarre, early sci-fi movie's attempt at an alien.

When he finally killed it, he used his slime to grab it, and sing it around the room a few times, before, slamming it into the wall. Seeing that this was the last of any Altered Beasts that may've been in this particular room, we all proceeded to the next door. Much to our dismay, however, this door proved to be locked. Dragoon ran over to us, and popped his head over Zeirom's shoulder.

"The door's still locked?? Is the mechanism broke? Here, let me fix it," he said, then pushed and shoved his way passed us, to the door. He put his hands on his hips, looked around the edges of the door, then felt along the separation between the edges.

Then he startled me. Zeirom slapped his face into his hand. Lynn just watched unemotionally. Dragoon started to beat on the door like a frustrated ape, and after he'd knocked it loose from the wall, he dug his fingers into the edges of the door, and ripped it straight out. After throwing the door into the next room, he turned to us and said, "See? I've got the knack."

He was jeered quickly, and we proceeded into the next room, which, oddly enough, was free of the usual no-goods. There were three more doors, a whole bunch of buttons, and a strange monument in this room, not unlike a monument that I'd seen in the Central Dome's courtyards. It was somewhat of a pillar, with strange patterns engraved in it, but of course, it didn't stretch quite all the way up to the ceiling. This caught my attention. Lynn didn't seem to care one way or the other, and Dragoon and Zeirom occupied themselves with destroying bombs that'd been planted on several of the buttons.

Lynn looked briefly at the monument, then went on to step on a couple of buttons that Zeirom had rendered free of traps. "The teleporter to the next section of the caves is this way, everyone," she said. For some reason, at that point, I decided to take Lynn as a role model, and ignore the monument. I followed her, as did everyone else.

It was in this next little room, that Dragoon's slime finally broke. He warned us all to duck, then he ran out into the middle of the room, and swung it around in such a fashion, that it scraped along the walls, and gathered everything in the room. It was on maybe the third or fourth slam into the ceiling, that the slime's membrane finally busted, and everything inside splattered everywhere. The monsters were dead, no doubt about that, but Dragoon was upset at the loss of his slime. This didn't last long, though, as he quickly picked up a Govulmer, and tore its arm off, between the elbow a wrist, pulled out a few bones, and shoved his hand in it. "Instant claw!" he pronounced. We swiftly pushed him into the teleporter in the next room.

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