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The Recollection Of Meira

Chapter 9

We finally got together, and decided to go ahead and proceed to the Mines. Once again, we gathered in the Purplenum section of the Hunters' Deck. We didn't waste any time in going down, this time. We each arrived at roughly the same time, collected our equipment from the Check Room, and headed straight for the teleporter, with only the usual nods and greetings.

Once we got down there, we all checked our weapons. Lynn ignited her sword, and I ignited the trusty daggers I'd become accustomed to. Dragoon warmed up his motors, and Zeirom unlocked the safety on his gun.

In the mean time, Zeirom gave us a run down of what this place was, and a little about its history. "The Mines," he said, "Were named such before anything was constructed down here. They mined out huge quantities of metals and variant natural resources, before what you see here was built. In fact, if you were to follow the elevator shafts down, you'd find what remains of the existing mining operation.

"What we have now, is Osto-Hyle Labs. Before the explosion that occurred when Pioneer 2 arrived, a wide variety of research materials were produced down here. While it was indeed a lab, most research here took place at another secondary location. The Mines were just used mostly for the refining of materials needed for research in a variety of fields from robotics to biology.

"According to logs that were found in the computer system, however, the varying androids and robots that performed various services, all under the administration of one of the three main computers, Vol Opt, started to malfunction."

By this point, we were all ready, and watching Zeirom, intent on hearing what he has to say. He paused for a moment, then continued. "They say that all the androids went nuts and killed everyone." Then he paused, and we all looked at Dragoon.

Dragoon just looked at us for a moment before finally coming back with, "What???"

Zeirom shrugged and continued further. "To sum it up kids, our mission is to destroy Vol Opt. Not that it hasn't been destroyed several times before, but by destroying it all the time, we slow it down, and it doesn't spread out to the Caves, or even worse, the Forest. It'll end up being repaired by one of the other two systems of course, but like I said, it's good to slow it down, and impede its progress."

Just then, Dragoon jumped up and down, then ran out the room yelling, "Come Zeirom!! Let us kill our brethren!"

I believe we all had about the same thing on our minds at this point. Zeirom was the one to speak it, however: "Here we go, again."

We all ran out to join Dragoon in the fray. First on the menu, was Gillchics. A Gillchic is somewhat of a worker droid. Under normal circumstances, Gillchics handle heavy lifting, and more or less, just some basic moving around of stuff. They're also commonly used for mining jobs though, too. Hence the little laser they have mounted on their right arms. They're certainly not designed for combat, but they're quite strong and they come in large groups, so if you're not careful when dealing with them, they'll be quick to get the best of you.

To avoid them, Zeirom would run to one end of the room, take a few shots, then run back to the other side of the room, while Lynn put her sword to good use. Gillchics can be dangerous when they attack, but they're knocked off balance rather easily, so a good hefty sword will put three or four of them to the ground quickly. Dragoon, on the other hand, was content to wait for one to try to smack him, then just grab it by its arm, and throw it into whatever was convenient; be that a wall, or another couple of Gillchics.

Myself, I found a Slicer that I quickly learned yielded a far higher success rate against these Gillchics than my beloved daggers. Because Gillchics have a habit of following their mark in a large, compact group, simply lobbing the ricocheting photon blade of a Slicer at the one in front allows a skilled hunter to very quickly lay in some reasonable damage on the whole group. I watched Zeirom's technique for handling the Gillchics, and with my nifty new Slicer, I did likewise.

Between the four of us, the room was cleared quickly, so we moved on. A larger room, this one with a group of small flying robots called Canadines, in a circular formation around a similar robot, a Canine. When in this configuration in particular, the Canadines are controlled by the Canine.

Canadines themselves look somewhat like, maybe the letter "U", except that they've got a third arm underneath them in the middle, and where all three arms meet, there is a small sensor array which can sense heat, movement, sound, and a number of other things, in addition to functioning as a low-grade camera. On the back of a Canadine, is a pair of antennae, as well as a recharge socket.

Canadines, in the past, have been integral parts of high-end security systems. They work as mobile cameras, and can even produce a strong electrical shock either to deter intruders, or to incapacitate them as necessary. According to Zeirom, many of their design features can be traced back to their long since predecessor model, "the Whistle", which dates back as long as 1,800 years ago, or more recently, the NeoWhistle, a newer model of the Whistle, which first appeared within the last 900 years.

The Canine is constructed in roughly the same manner as Canadines, but a Canine is typically painted red, is a little bit bigger, and most importantly, it acts as a server for the Canadines to send information to, and retrieve instructions from. Which means that if you destroy the Canine first, the fight with the Canadines will go quickly.

Taking aim as we entered the room, Zeirom charged a shot, and nailed the Canine. With a chuckle, Zeirom watched the Canine fall apart. "Now watch what happens," he said, just as the Canadines started to flash red lights and emit an alarm. "As a further security measure, if Canadines suddenly lose contact with the Canine, without being prepared for this, they go nuts and start on a kamikaze collision course for any nearby object."

A little worried, and maybe confused, I asked, "But Zeirom, doesn't that mean that they're all going to come toward us now, and blow up in our faces?"

"Yeah. I've seen many a careless hunter caught in the middle of a group of kamikaze Canadines get killed, after trying to kill the Canine first. That's why I killed it from way over here. Hit them with your Slicer, Meira. You'll stop them all at once."

"Oh... Okay Zeirom. Here goes..." With that, I drew back my Slicer to start to lob a photon blade at the group, but then the mysterious remains of a Gillchic from the previous room went flying through the air, right by me. It hit the ground and slid underneath the Canadines, which of course, caused the freaked out, blinking Canadines to reverse course and follow it into the ground, where they exploded and left us all alone.

Zeirom and I both looked back behind us to see Dragoon jumping in the air and congratulating himself with various repeated victory poses. With a shrug we continued on to the next room, Zeirom periodically stopping to shoot down a trap that Lynn and I wouldn't have noticed.

Among the next several rooms, we encountered two curious types of androids, whose combat prowess is comparable to a HUcast's. These would be the Sinow Gold and Sinow Beat designations of android. The Sinow Gold having the ability to spray Star mist into the air surrounding them to heal themselves and others, while the Sinow Beat exhibits holographic talents, including the ability to turn invisible, as well as the ability to make it seem as if many more of itself is in the room. According to Zeirom, these androids were designed as part of the security system. These are the back up that Canadines send for, when they come across something that they can't handle by themselves.

Our first encounter with these androids sticks out in my mind. We ran into the room, surprised not to see anything. All of us, except for Dragoon, that is. Dragoon has a strange personality, which causes him to think of things that others wouldn't. Usually this results in him being totally confused to everyone else, but every once in a while, it so happens that he notices something else that everyone else is oblivious to.

We ran into the room, and stopped to look around. There were stray comments of "There's nothing here?" and "Why aren't the doors open?" Actually, I suppose that I should explain the deal with the doors in the Mines, but I'll tell about what happened in this room, first.

So, we're looking around confused, then Dragoon starts tapping his foot. The clank of Dragoon's foot on the ground caught my attention, as well as the attention of Zeirom and Lynn. Following up Dragoon's metal body, I soon noticed that his legs were rigid, and his arms were crossed in a manner reminiscent of impatience. When my eyes reached his head, I discovered that he was looking at the ceiling.

Evidently Zeirom noticed this sooner than I had, though. Just as I looked up to see what Dragoon was looking at, Zeirom fired a shot. I looked just in time to see a Sinow Blue release its grip from the ceiling, and fall to the ground. Soon after, three more fell, and two Sinow Golds, as well. I stared for a moment. These were mean looking androids, and they were coming at us.

Zeirom started shooting at the Sinow Gold, but soon started running for the other side of the room-- putting some distance between he and the other machine. He is indeed a ranger, after all. Then the one in the lead jumped at us, but Dragoon caught it, then immediately started to pound it. Lynn charged two with her sword, and the last one just stared at me for a moment, before taking a step back, igniting a photon blade sticking out of its arm, and then leaping at me.

Because I'm quick, I jumped out of the way to my right, with enough time to swing my left knee into its gut. This was, however, when I was unfortunate enough to learn that ramming your knee into a half-ton piece of flying metal and silicon is only good for hurting your own knee. Nonetheless, I stopped its attack, but as I reeled in the pain I had ultimately inflicted upon myself, the Sinow Beat recovered, and drew back at me again.

My first reaction was to check my knee for metal splinters. There were a lot of cuts there, and the blood was already creeping toward my socks. I looked up just in time to notice that I didn't have time to deal with that, very narrowly avoiding having my head taken off by a photon blade, by dropping to the ground and rolling backward. As I rolled, I dropped my Slicer, and grabbed my daggers as I got back to my feet. Reacting quickly again, I had my daggers ignited just in time to use it to catch the Sinow Beat's photon blade with it.

It withdrew its arm, only to come back with the other, which I ducked underneath. I swung my dagger in a counter, but the Sinow Beat dodged out of the way in a seemingly unnaturally balanced move. I rather suspect that Sinow-series androids are equipped with some sort of directional stabilizers or something; which would explain their ability to jump long distances without moving far above the ground.

Almost an automatic movement, as soon as it dodged out of the way, I did a back flip, landing just behind where I was, just managing to avoid the Sinow Beat's blade again. Now that I was behind it, I knew I wouldn't have much time, so I quickly started a spin, first dragging my left dagger across its back, quickly followed by the other dagger, and I finished the spin with a jump and a couple of kicks, which, unfortunately, by this time, the Sinow Beat was turning around, and caught my kick, taking the prompt to throw me across the room.

Before I got too far though, it jumped at me, intent on striking me while I was in flight. By this time, I was through with my initial panic, and rebalanced myself in the air. It flew toward me, and as it swung a photon blade at me, I countered with my own blade, holding it off that way, though, I soon found my feet hitting the wall.

It was obviously stronger than me, this much was evident, but I held it away, nonetheless. As I put my feet back on the ground, it pushed forward, forcing my back against the wall. It kept pushing, and I needed a little more force against it, so I pulled up my other arm, and used the other dagger to push against it, too. This slowed it down.

As I held its blade back, it brought its face to me, and give me a mean stare in my eyes. Now I was nervous. I felt sweat drops drip down my face. Its eyes darkened, and I sensed something strange. Then I saw something. I don't think it was a hologram, because it had a dark aura about it; that is, it forced this creepy feeling on me. Another face seemed to emerge from its actual face. A very mean face. It reminded me of something evil. It was all dimly colored, and little red eyes were bright in eye sockets of infinite darkness. Then its fangs-- I will never forget those fangs. It opened its mouth to release this hideous cry at me, saliva stringing from lip to tooth, from tooth to tooth, and anywhere else. Its jowls were layered, and made its chin look like a separate object wedged in between them.

After staring at this wide-eyed for a few seconds, I dropped to the floor and rolled away from this thing, just in time to be missed by the photon blade in its other arm, as it raked across the wall. As I stood again, it turned toward me, and again, another onslaught. I kept moving backward, dodging and blocking as it swung at me, but I finally got wise, and ducked under a swing, then stepped forward-- too close for it to swing at me. As it jumped back, to re-establish its range of attack, I anchored my daggers behind its head, and the force of its own jump pulled them through, removing its head, and thus, all of its sensory equipment. Now that I was fighting a blind machine, I snatched my Slicer from the ground and with a few well-aimed sweeps, I finished it off.

Turning around to see everyone else, I looked up just in time to see the Sinow Gold jump at me. Luckily for me, just as it was about to hit me, it flew apart, scorched in the photon bullets of Zeirom's rifle. After dodging a little bit of debris, I felt relief. Everything had fallen. It turned out that if Dragoon hadn't finished off his Sinow Beat that he was confronting, Lynn likely would've been overtaken. It seems that after Dragoon tore apart his mark, he ripped its arms open, and started using the photon blade emitters as his weapons, which indeed proved to be quite useful to him. After doing this, he had gone after Lynn's Sinow Beats, just as they were starting to get the best of her.

I guess now's the time for my explanation of the doors in the Mines. The doors in the Mines don't remain locked as a natural state. The system is programmed to keep them locked, unless they are receiving a signal that tells them otherwise. This is part of the active security system in the Mines. Basically, any time a machine in the room has to go into attack mode, it transmits the "lock" signal to the system, and the system locks the doors. When the signal goes away, the system assumes that the threat has been eliminated, and it therefore releases the door locks.

So, when the Sinow Gold blew up, it was no longer able to maintain the lock signal, so the doors unlocked. We all looked at each other. Lynn used her Resta technique on herself, and Zeirom clanked up to me. "You handled that Sinow Beat exceptionally well, Meira." he said.

I looked at him with one eyebrow cocked. "Well? I nearly got killed!"

"Ah, but you didn't. Just look at Lynn."

This caught Lynn's attention. "What about me?! I'll have you know that I took on not one, but TWO of those monsters!" Lynn walked up to us. I thought she was going to slap Zeirom. By some miracle though, she held herself back from it.

"Seriously," I said, "I freaked when that creepy head came out of it."

"Creepy head? What creepy head?" Zeirom asked.

"The one with the shiny red eye things, and the icky teeth and it's all scary and stuff," was my reply. Zeirom just looked at me. Lynn cocked an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. I almost want to think that she smirked, just before she started walking for the door.

Dragoon started following Lynn. "Less talk! More kill!" he exclaimed.

Before we started walking, Zeirom looked at me and said, "I want you to tell me more about that face, later."

"All right..." Then we followed Lynn and Dragoon. There was a teleporter to the second level of Osto-Hyle Labs here, so we went ahead and moved on to the second segment of our trip.

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