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The Recollection Of Meira

Chapter 7


The third level of the Caves is the most uncomfortable of them all. Surveyors say that rivers of lava flow a mere 20 feet from some of the walls, and because some of the rivers that carved the second level of the Caves empty into here, the combination of heat and water makes it irredeemably hot and humid. It was, however, for the nearby underground rivers of lava, that the people of Pioneer 1 dug the third level of the Caves further, and installed equipment to make a power plant of the area.

This level of the Caves served a dual purpose, however. In addition to using the area to supplement their power use, Osto-Hyle Labs also used this segment of the Caves as a sewage facility. In some parts of the area, at least. It sounds gross, but it's really not so bad. When someone says sewage, most people think, toilets, bathtubs, and kitchen waste. Well, Osto-Hyle Labs had only a few toilets, no bathtubs, and absolutely no kitchens.

Most of their waste was chemical, and had mostly to do with the waste from experimental robotics, cybernetics, and sometimes even weapons. This means that there was a large variety of oils, failed fuels, and maybe the occasional battery acid leak. By far, more dangerous stuff to get on you, than your typical sewage, but not nearly as disgusting, or for that matter, smelly. Actually, the stuff contains itself well enough that some areas don't even smell of it.

Arriving in this third area, Lynn and I both gulped down a couple of Trifluids to cure us of our sore muscles, and prepare us for casting more Resta, Shifta, and Deband techniques. The androids just looked at us, and waited patiently, having no need for such pleasantries. They were, after all, incapable of casting techniques.

Dragoon took off, again. We caught up with him, and found all of ourselves in a frenzy of attacking monsters. Dodging blasts from the peculiar monsters known as Pan Arms, and avoiding the swipes of Melqueeks and Govulmers, we slowly cleared the room. Bursts of Megid flew through the room, from the Ob Lilies in each corner, and Dragoon started running at one to take it out, when he stopped in his tracks, seeing a burst flying right at him. I believe that he was, in that instant, prepared to die.

The burst hit him, and he stood there for a moment, his eyes not glowing, as if he had them tightly shut. The burst then dropped a Vulmer behind him, that was about to take a swipe. Dragoon's eyes lit up, and he looked over himself. "Whoa!" he yelled. "It went right through me!"

"Way to go, Dragoon!" I cheered for him, as he began to emit some sort of deranged Dragoon Battle Cry, and run toward the Ob Lily again-- just in time to be dropped by the next burst of Megid to fly from its mouth-thing. Dragoon was quickly avenged, however, by Zeirom's rifle.

"It's a lot easier to kill an Ob Lily when you don't have to run into its range of attack", he claimed, as he sprayed Dragoon down with a Moon Atomizer. Dragoon popped up, and immediately went into a rage against all the monsters in the room. The rest of us just kind of backed off, and let him do his work, though things would sneak up on Dragoon, as in his rage, he wasn't paying as much attention as he really should. Whenever this happened, Zeirom would take aim, and shoot it down, just in time to save Dragoon from getting smacked.

When the Pan Arms separated its orange side from its blue side, thus revealing its Hideom and Migium halves, they both charged concurrently at Dragoon, threatening to infest him with the effects normally associated with the techniques, Jellen and Zalure, which are, more or less, the opposite of Shifta and Deband. The threats were fruitless, however, as Dragoon took the opportunity to grab them by what would be considered their wrists, and impale them on each otherís own sharp, pointy blade-like things. With Dragoon's grunt, and a nod, the next door unlocked itself, and we carried onward.

After dragging photons through entrails in the next room or two, we split up again. The parties were, as usual, myself and Dragoon, then Lynn and Zeirom. This time Dragoon didn't have his Slime of Whack, as he called it, so I was free to fight without ducking out of the way every few moments. He eventually broke his Govulmer's claw, and proceeded to beat things to death with his bare hands.

Dragoon's power is monstrous. Dragoon has the odd ability to just run into a room, and fight with the fury of a hundred pissed off men raging with testosterone, and yet, at the same time, produce a giggle that very much reminds me of a young school girl at play.

When Dragoon stomps something into the ground, or slams something into the wall, you feel it. His arms have power like the huge hydraulics that pound into the ground there, in the Caves, for no readily apparent reason. Dragoon is a heavy machine that somehow packs the force of a machine six or seven times his size, and this startles me greatly. Whoever designed him, most certainly, designed him with sheer power in mind, but just barely the sense required to not kill things that shouldn't be killed. I am very, very grateful, that my MAG has the good habit of bringing me back from near death, when I take more than I can handle. Also, thank the Light for scape dolls.

Dragoon fashioned a weapon out of part of a door. He said, "I feel that my hands don't quite supply a long enough range. I need something bigger and longer." With that he attacked a door, and tore its frame off. Tearing off part of the frame, he bent the thing into something resembling a bent pole, and promptly stomped it into the ground until he determined that he'd compressed it enough for it to be solid all the way through.

When he swung the bent pole he'd created, he swung it with the bent part forward. This brings up another interesting point about Dragoon. Have you ever seen one of those real-life shows, where they show home videos of disastrous, or just plain obscure events taking place? Have you ever seen one where a guy just randomly freaks out, and attacks someone for no good reason? The guy that gets attacked tends to back up against something, or sometimes, curl up into a ball, and just try to block the attacker's intrusions. They get a strange, regretful look of, "Why is this happening to me?" on their face, which is sometimes accompanied by confused curse words or screams. Meanwhile, the attacker generally looks like they'd be a normal, mild-mannered individual, sometimes wearing a business suit, or perhaps something more casual, but nonetheless, the attacker just looks out of place doing what he's doing.

When Dragoon attacks something with a weapon, if they survive the first few hits, the same scene often unfolds, but on Dragoon's end, rather than looking out of place, he takes on a look that expresses something more to the effect of, "You're still alive?? What am I doing wrong??" But then it dies, and Dragoon strikes a dramatic pose while the creature's body settles, before moving on to the next one. Until you've seen Dragoon running around in the Caves, you haven't seen anything quite so puzzling as a Govulmer that looks like it is apologizing everything remotely offensive it has ever done in its life.

Myself, I was collecting my fair share of the kill-count, as well, though I tend to be a bit more graceful than Dragoon. Dragoon likes to crush, stomp, pound, and virtually anything else that causes the unfortunate target to make a funny noise. When I kill something, I like to try to take it head-on, and engage in some actual competition with it. Show a little sportsmanship, and don't just overpower it unnecessarily. Of course, I suppose that's a good thing, because if I did everything the way that Dragoon does it, I'd probably die from exhaustion after the first room attempting this.

We finally met back up with Lynn and Zeirom. Lynn stormed into the room, rather angered, while Zeirom strolled in casually. Lynn cursed, then yelled, "I am NEVER hunting alone with that pervert, EVER again!"

Zeirom chimed in with, "She's over reacting."

Dragoon looked at them both, stomped and asked the question on both of our minds: "What happened?"

Lynn gestured, pointed, and otherwise spoke with her hands and body as she replied, "I got knocked down by a Crimson Assassin, and this bozo thought I was out cold, and tried to pull off my shirt!"

"I wasn't trying to pull off your shirt," Zeirom rebutted. "I was lifting it."

"What difference does that make?"

"I was checking for a pulse. You biological constructs sure are quick to cast judgment, sheesh."

Then, in his usual crude manner, Dragoon asked of Zeirom, "Did you see her boobies?"

To which, Zeirom answered with the line that would forever excommunicate him from Lynn's good side: "Boobies? On her? I'd say they're more like ant hills, myself."

Lynn smacked Zeirom for that. Then she smacked him again. And again. Finally, she did one of those feminine, pissed off, "OOOOO!!" things, and marched off to the next room. Dragoon leaned in to Zeirom, and I don't know if he was being serious or sarcastic when he said this, but I heard him say, "I think she likes you, Zeirom."

In the next room, we found the oddities of all oddities, though, I suppose that it was to be expected, sooner or later. The air in this area was nicely free of the odor of waste chemicals, and in this particular room, it was filled with the pleasant aroma of, you guessed it-- cake. Parked in this room was a truck with a little bakery shop in the back. We had found, the Naula Cake Shop.

The three Naula sisters are famous for three world-renowned (ship-renowned?) bakery products: Cake, cake, and um, well, cake. Let's just say that it's good. Dragoon was fortunate enough that for some reason, he'd been designed with a fueling system that took carbohydrate matter and converted it to potential energy, which of course, means that he can eat.

The Cake Sisters gave us each somewhat of a sales pitch, saying something along the lines of, "Are you surprised to find a cake shop in a location such as this? Pioneer 2 wouldn't allow us to make cakes, so we came down here! What do you think of the heat and humidity here? It's perfect!" On a tangent, just to explain something real quick, when the Cake Sisters were on Pioneer 2, they baked a lot of breads and other nice things that generally need baking, but mostly no cakes, because well, cakes are good and popular, and the supplies on Pioneer 2 are limited. So, to avoid running into a shortage on vital things like sugar, salt, and flour, sweet things such as cake are banned from being made commercially.

Somehow I got as excited as them when they introduced themselves, and was jumping up and down, kinda giggly. Lynn insists that Zeirom couldn't take his eyes off me when I did this. I think she was just trying to slander him, myself.

Dragoon purchased a cake from them first. He took it to one of them and asked her, "What do I do with this? Do I kill it? Can I kill it?"

"No, you eat it, silly!"

"But can I kill it before I eat it?"

"Well... um... No, you just eat it, and it's warm and tasty, and good!"

"How good can it be if I can't kill it?"

"Just try it, you'll see!"

"But... but... I want to kill it! Can't I just kill it, and be done??"

"Just eat it! It's good! You'll like it just the way it is!"

"Why can't I kill it?? I want to see it bleed!"

At that point, the sister behind the counter of the truck grabbed the cake from Dragoon, and handed him another one. "Try killing this one, sweety..."

I watched as Dragoon's eye's brightened. He gawked at the most perfect cream-filled cake he would ever see. It was like watching a child being given a new toy. Then he ran halfway across the room, grabbed it with both hands, and in a huge, exaggerated motion, hopped into the air, and landed with his feet spread apart and knees bent, just a he tore the poor cake in half, spilling vanilla cream all over the place. "It bleeds!" he exclaimed.

I took a que from one of the sisters and called back to him, "Now eat it!"

He seemed to agree with that idea, and promptly stuffed it under his face plate. Afterwards, he held a messy thumb up to the sisters, and in the muffled voice of Dragoon with his mouth full (which we would unfortunately hear again and again and again...), "You ahr right! Itt ish good!"

Lynn and I bought some, and we both agreed, they were as the one sister described them- warm and tasty and good. Though, while I was content to define them as such, Lynn found it more favorable to say, "I like these. They are sweet."

Zeirom, however, declined with a polite, "No thank you. I'm not designed to eat, though I do appreciate the offer."

Still angry at him, Lynn had to remark at that with, "You aren't designed to do a lot of things, but that doesn't keep you from fantasizing about them!"

Zeirom's only reply to that was, "Hey, I'm content to watch! You and Meira enjoyed that cake quite nicely, and that satisfies me every bit as much as it does you!"

Awkward silence. Then we moved on to the next room. We all chose a path and stuck with it, despite the opportunity to split up again. Much to our disappointment, Dragoon had discovered the enjoyment of eating what he kills. After slaying the last beast in a room, Dragoon approached me carrying... something. "Meira!" he called. "You have GOT to try the Vulmer spleen! It's just so squishy in your mouth, how could anyone resist?" With that, he presented the gooiness to me.

I quickly jumped away with a shrill cry of, "Eeeeeeewwww!!! That is disgusting, Dragoon! Get that thing away from me!!" Which, by the way, by this point, he'd tied an intestine around his helmet-like head, as though it were a bandana.

"No no, try it!" he insisted. "It's like eating those candies that are all chewy and spill juice all over your mouth when you bite down on them!"

I expressed my detestment again, and Zeirom stepped in. "Knock it off, Dragoon. Can't you see the lady doesn't want any?" He leaned over and patted me on the back as he said this.

After another couple of rooms full of monsters to be killed, we finally came to a little room with a big teleporter. "We'd better take a telepipe back up to Pioneer 2, to restock on supplies," Zeirom said. "It'd be a good idea to go into battle good and ready." We all more or less concurred. Zeirom procured a telepipe from a storage location of some sort on his body, and placing it in a special receptacle on his face, blew a faint drift of air through it, and played a mellow, if not just strange tune. The pipe disintegrated as the tune finished, and an array of light surrounded him, soon to be followed by the bending of the space around him, and him disappearing into it.

We would all have been impressed, had we not seen this many times before. Lynn and I both used our Ryuker techniques to attain very much the same effect, and Dragoon used the warp that Zeirom laid down. I suppose he would've used a telepipe himself, but his face was covered in goo.

Back on Pioneer 2, 'mates, and Lynn and I also restocked on 'fluids. We all took a trip to the medical clinic, where Lynn and I both got bruises and cuts healed, while Dragoon and Zeirom had dents pulled, shorts fixed, and then they were both restocked with the customary bombs and grenades. Dragoon also made a hop over to the Check Room to acquire an actual weapon.

Back in the Caves, we all stepped onto the teleporter. After a count down from four, we were whisked away to a raft going down a river of the aforementioned sewage in an actual man-made tunnel. We looked around for a second, before hearing some splashing around coming from upstream.

We all looked at the source. Coming at us, was a large, armored, segmented, worm-like... thing. It made its war cry as it jumped into the air from the water, then splashed back down. Zeirom readied his rifle. "The beast known in Dr. Osto's research documents as Beta772. Known as a continually mutating, err, evolving creature, with a strong desire to either kill or infect. We commonly refer to it as... De Rol Le."

"I want to kill it, Zeirom." Dragoon said calmly. "Can I kill it, Zeirom?"

"Feel free to tear its legs off and beat it with them, Dragoon!" Lynn yelled.

Then it approached. It was clearly capable of moving much faster than our raft, and furthermore, it saw us as invading culprits. It was close enough to the craft that Lynn could swipe at it with her sword to little effect. Zeirom, however, had no trouble with hitting it, and actually seemed quite content to fire away.

Dragoon started to tear off part of the raft to throw at it, but seeing this, I quickly grabbed Dragoon's hand, "Dragoon! No! We NEED the raft to remain intact!"

"Oh, all right," he pouted. "I'll just have to use the thing I pulled out of the Check Room." With that, he revealed a long, metal saber that caught the attention of all of us.

"Dragoon!" Zeirom yelled. "That's the Agito, made by one of the last of the legendary master sword smiths! Where did you get that??"

"I dunno. Found it buried in a wall a while back."

"They say that it's part of four-katana set, and between the four of them, they have the capacity to destroy a whole planet!"

"Really?? Wow, that's neat..." Dragoon's enthusiasm was certainly there, but for some deranged reason, he didn't seem to demonstrate the ability to express it, but rather, looked at De Rol Le, just as the thing jumped out of the water, and put its head on the raft.

"Meira!" Lynn shouted. "Now's our chance to deal the heavy damage! But watch out for its long legs-- they'll try to crush you!" Just as she said that, De Rol Le smooshed Zeirom's foot.

"CUUUUUUUUURSEEEESS!!!" Zeirom yelled. In retrospect, I think that was a good choice of words. There are quite a number of other words that can be summed up with the word he said, that may have left him distracted, apologizing to Lynn and myself.

Dragoon started hacking on De Rol Le with his katana. He hacked with the energy of a psychotic, half-dead axe murderer in a really bad horror flick. When a leg came flying at him, he batted it away with the back of his hand, and kept going. When another one came, he grew impatient, and grabbed it, promptly breaking it over his knee.

Meanwhile, Lynn started swinging her sword at the back of the creature's "neck", while I dashed and slashed at a segment of its body. Zeirom kept shooting at the legs, to keep them away from Lynn and I.

Then it happened. Dragoon broke the big piece of calcium armor off of the thing's head. The final stroke he made with the legendary Orotiagito shattered the mask, but it also slammed into one of De Rol Le's teeth. It didn't stop Dragoon's swing, but it did alter its course.

The first crack was heard when the Orotiagito hit the tooth. That's when it was evident that something bad had happened. Then there was the flash and deafening shattering noise, when the weapon slammed into the side of the craft. Dragoon held the hand guard of the weapon up to eye level on him, as De Rol Le retreated from our raft. "I, um... Broke it," he said plainly. Lynn and Zeirom's jaws dropped. I just kinda shrugged it off, not really realizing how incredibly shameful a deed had just been committed.

Zeirom shouted his custom curse word again, then yelled at Dragoon, until Lynn and I kindly reminded him of the big purple things that De Rol Le was tossing at us.

After a volley or two of purple things that hurt us, De Rol Le rushed forward, ahead of us, and with a flick of its tail, launched a whole bunch of large, ugly, spikes at us, which spun. Zeirom warned that they would blow up, if they were allowed to spin on the raft for too long. So Dragoon, Lynn and I destroyed each and every one, while Zeirom continued to peg on De Rol Le.

De Rol Le continued to move in front of us, and now drifted over to the other side of the raft, and let itself hang back behind us, letting off another volley of purple things at us, while we passed it. Then it faded off into the distance behind us.

"Did it um, go away?" I asked. We all waited. Then we heard a vicious noise that sounded like concrete and electronics being crushed. We saw De Rol Le, now above us, quickly moving along the ceiling, destroying the long rows of florescent lights, and tearing bricks from the ceiling. Lynn and I skillfully dodged the falling debris, but Zeirom got pounded; Zeirom being far too big and clunky to jump around avoiding things. Dragoon, on the other hand, was catching the larger rocks, and trying to throw them at De Rol Le.

The worm quickly moved forward long the ceiling, faster even, than it had been while in the sewage. It charged well ahead of us, getting well out of sight, but we could tell that the tunnel's lights had been destroyed for a very good distance. All we really had for light now, was our photon weapons, our MAGs, and the emergency lights on Zeirom's shoulders.

Before long, De Rol Le was back with us. In front of the raft again, it raised out of the sewage, and moved backward in the tainted water. A purple charge grew in the creature's mouth, and it promptly shot a beam of that same purple stuff at us, but now, it was far more potent. I got hit several times by this beam, promptly casting Resta to heal myself each time I got up, because I just KNEW that I would not be able to survive a second hit without it.

De Rol Le shot a couple more blasts at us, and Dragoon got fed up with it. He laid himself down, with his head sticking out over the raft, in kind of a push-up position. Then his shoulders opened up, as he pointed himself at De Rol Le. Dragoon let out a yelp of, "Kill! Death! Destruction! WOO HOO!" before shooting off all of his grenades, using his Burst Rock engine to the fullest. This knocked De Rol Le back into the water, as well as destroying most of the armor that it had remaining.

De Rol Le was swept underneath the raft, but quickly resurfaced on the other side, just as we came to the end of the distance that the worm had destroyed all the lights. It started to swim up along side us, when Dragoon yelled at Zeirom, "Hey! Zeirom! Give me your rifle!!"

"Why?? You can't use it!"

"Sure I can! Give it to me, and I'll show you!"

Begrudgingly, Zeirom handed over the rifle. As always, Dragoon didn't fail to surprise us all. Taking the weapon by the barrel and holding it like a club, Dragoon ran to the side of the raft, and jumped onto De Rol Le. He screamed some unidentifiable exclamatories of excitement, as he grabbed a hold of a loose flap of skin on the back of the thing's head, and started to pound it with the rifle. Looking over at Zeirom, I saw him with his hand over his eyes, and his head turned away. Poor RAcast. He couldn't bear to look.

Finally, Dragoon stopped pounding De Rol Le in the head with the rifle-- but only long enough to scream, "Ah-ha!" and remove the photon cell from the top of the weapon, jam it in the creature's eye, and break it off with the butt of the gun. As the thing exploded, Dragoon jumped off. Just in time, too, as the tunnel suddenly got considerably narrower, and De Rol Le smashed into a wall. We presume that it died there, but according to Zeirom, the scientists aboard Pioneer 2 say that there may be a great many more Beta772's.

Zeirom found the control panel for the raft, and slowed the craft to a stop, as we came up on a docking port, with a door. We all got off the raft. Lynn and I wobbled a bit with sea-legs, but then were able to follow Dragoon and Zeirom through the door, and into a little room with a teleporter and a door.

"I think this little quest is over, folks." Zeirom said. "We're in the area ambiguously referred to as 'the Mines' now. We've made it all the way through the Caves. I say we all go home and get a well-deserved rest." We all agreed, and rather than walking through the door, we all headed for the teleporter, which would take us back to Pioneer 2. Zeirom stopped me, though. "Meira?"

"Yeah?"

"This is the first time you've been here, right?"

"Right."

"All right. Be sure to slide your gate pass through the slot on the teleporter before you go up, then. That'll make sure that you have access to this area later on."

"Oh! Okay, sure thing, Zeirom," I said. With that, Zeirom went back up to Pioneer 2, and I did as he said, before returning myself. That ended that little camping trip. It would be the last run for a couple of months.

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