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Chapter Ten
Ship of Regret and Sleep

  Solstrys, XPUnanny, BWS-1, Lola, and Ophelia slowly walked through the ruins, weapons at the ready. The ruins were a taboo amongst the hunters of the guild, only the most skilled of groups ever ventured beyond the entrance. The neon glow of the walls and oddly textured corridors seems to be alive. The air was hot and moist, filled with a sickening sweet smell that made people gag their first time breathing it. Trys and Lola were gagging, if he had lungs BWS would have been too. The group was on Iris and Tear’s trail, there were purple blood stains on the floors of rooms all over the ruins. They lost the trail as they entered a large room with doors at all ends.
  “Pun,” Trys softly said, scanning the room, “Which way do we go? You said you’ve been through the ruins before...”
 “Er, well” Pun blushed, “You see, these ruins... I know if sounds strange, but they change.”
  “Change?” A look of confusion slowly drew across Trys’ face. “What do you mean they ‘change’?”
  “I mean, they’re one way one time you’re here, and they’re another way the next time, like all the rooms and corridors are moving around. Why do you think it took the guild so long to get transporters leading to the later areas? The teams were constantly getting lost.” BWS walked away from the group towards one of the distant doors. As he neared it a dozen floating metal creatures appeared. They were nearly a meter long, and floated horizontals, appearing as if they were made from metal. Trys held her blade at the ready, and prepared to attack.
  “Wait!” Pun screamed, “Don’t move!” Trys and the others did not move. Lola slowly looked over at Pun.
  “Why shouldn’t we move? What are these things Punny?”
  “The guild refers to them as claws... they’re not much trouble, even in packs, but they’re usually accompanied by friends, friends who teleport in as you’re fighting these little guys. Besides, these ones are deaf and blind. They track us by our movement, they can detect the slightest air displacement.”
  “Then,” Lola began to ask, “What should we do? you seem to know what you’re doing here.”
  “Yeah, ok, forces hunters, heads up, on the count of three, I want everyone to use their strongest RAzonde technique, got it?”
  “Yeah,” Lola acknowledged. Ophelia silently nodded, as did Trys.
  “Ok,” Pun began. “And when they’re dead, be ready for their friends, watch the skies... one,” the group tensed up and each slowly scanned the room, “two”, the claws slowly began to drift around the room, towards the group, “one” in unison, each member of the group sans BWS cast the strongest RAzonde technique they could. The air filled with streaks of electricity, as the metallic claw creatures briefly screamed in pain, and mysteriously vanished leaving a purple blood stain on the ground. At the four corners of the room, bizarre creatures with large blades for hands teleported in. “Dimenians...” Pun slowly spoke, “let’s get to work.”

  Iris and Tear slowly walked through the ruins. It was a difficult journey, and Iris had already been wounded by a teleporting, technique using creature she had never seen before. Iris walked with a slow deliberate limp, dragging her left leg behind her. “Ahh”, she stifled a scream, “This hurts...” Iris looked down at her leg, the flesh was seared and burned, Iris bled profusely. “Tear... I need a recovery tech...” Tear turned her head to look at Iris.
  “I sorry Iris, not have tasties.”
  “Do you have any recovery mates?”
“Nope!” Iris frowned, she needed someway to stop the bleeding or she would eventually pass out. As Iris was contemplating her situation, and cursing herself for having used all her recovery items earlier in the day, the door Iris and Tear had entered the room through opened. A very short female human force entered the room, wearing a dark blue dress like guild uniform.
  “Finally!”, the woman yelled, waving her arm side to side to get Iris and Tear’s attention. The woman sprinted to their location. “Whew, it’s about time I found you two. I’ve been lost down in these ruins for hours. I might ha...” The woman looked down at Iris’ leg and gasped. “Oh my! Here let me do something about that...” The woman kneeled by Iris and extended both of her palms to Iris’ leg. She quietly remained still for several moments, before a sudden bright light enveloped Iris’s leg, healing it instantly. “There, that better?” Iris looked down at her healed leg, the pain that had been shooting through her nervous system was subsiding.
  “It’s better.” Iris coldly replied, and lowered her head to stare the woman directly in the eyes. Iris was a full head taller, and was trying her best to look very intimidating. “Who are you?”
  “Oh! How rude of me, my name is Sylvia.”
“I’m Iris, and this...” Iris pointed to Tear, who was cheerfully smiling at Sylvia, “is Tear.”
  “Nice to meet you.”
“Indeed. care to elaborate on how exactly you got ‘lost’ and why you’re alone?” Sylvia blushed lightly, appearing embarrassed.
  “Well, it’s kinda embarrassing...” Sylvia’s eyes slowly looked down, she held her hands behind her back.
  “Then save it, we’re in a bit of a hurry.”
  “Oh? Where are you headed?”
  “Deep ruins, beyond the third area.”
  “B-beyond the third area? Is that safe? Nobody has ever returned from that far into the ruins.”
  “I do not intend...” Iris stopped abruptly. “Tear and I have both exhausted our recovery mate and fluid supply, and you are obviously a skilled force. Would you be interested in joining us, at least to the area two entry teleporter?”
  “Certainly!” Sylvia quickly responded. “As a matter of fact, I know the way, like I said, I’ve been wandering around for some time now, I’ll lead.” A look of perplexion drew across Tear’s face. She walked to Iris, grabbed Iris’ top and gently tugged on it twice. Iris turned to look at Tear.
  “Yes?” Iris inquired.
  “Um, Iris, first chibi lady say “lost”, now say “wander”. Pitri not understand.” Iris smiled a faint smile, and placed her hand on the top of Tear’s head.
  “Don’t worry about it.”
  “Okay!”, Tear smiled back, “If Iris says so.”
  Sylvia led Iris and Tear through several rooms and hallways into a large room with several doors. Sylvia stood in the doorway of the hallway they had taken to get to the room, scanning the multi-doored room for several moments. She walked out into the room and pointed at the door directly opposite the one they had entered from. “Through that door is another short series of rooms and the transporter leading to ruins area two that you’re looking for.” Iris, Tear, and Sylvia entered the room, expecting groups of enemies to appear, but none did. Iris scanned the room, and noticed in a far corner near another door were multiple puddles of thick purple blood. Something had already been here.
  “Sylvia, is that your doing?” Iris pointed to the puddles.
  “No, I tried to avoid as many fights as I could, I mostly ran past any enemies I came across.” One of two doors near the puddles opened, 5 shadowed characters entered the room, first looking at the puddles, then at Iris, Tear and Sylvia. Iris squinted, straining her eyes to see through the low light. As the figures ventured father into the room, she could clearly distinguish 5 faces. The one in the front of the group held Iris’ attention, a Numan woman wearing white guild clothes, with spikey pale blue hair, and a glimmering silver blade in her hand. Iris stood rigid and stiff, not flinching a muscle. A barrage of images and sounds flooded her mind, the burning lab, the experiments, a quiet music box melody playing, a promise yet to be fulfilled. Iris and Trys stood staring at each other, each transfixed on the gaze of the other. The room was dead silent. Sylvia was the only one to notice the door nearest Trys’ group open, and the the sinister looking giant red android that emerged from it.

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