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Chapter 1: Initial Exploration (p.0)

Chapter 2: Signs of Life (p.100)

Chapter 3: Applied Science (p.209)

Chapter 4: Somewhere Else (p.335)

Chapter 5: Conflict of Interest (p.472)

Chapter 6: New Perspectives (p.600)

Chapter 7: Mapping Things Out (p. 689)

Chapter 8: Understandings (p. 762)

Chapter 9: Mnemnem (p. 868)

Chapter 10: Monsters (p. 954)

Chapter 11: Eye of the Storm (p. 1039)

Finale (p. 1133)

Epilogue (p. 1159)



Author’s Note: This page is a little different. I’ve written a musical piece to accompany this final sequence. I’m no good at Flash or anything like that, so as much as I’d like to sync this update to the piece, I really can’t. That said: There is some music, about two minutes long, and I can only hope that it syncs up with your reading of the page decently well (it probably will run way too long! but in your imagination it will run exactly perfectly). Headphone it up and let’s do it.


The music box begins to play. Four repeating notes, just like Feringus said. No C or A.

The melody echoes in the tunnels of the world…

And the mother of all storms begins to set in.

The world begins to fade.

» Run.

You begin to run. But not in the direction she expected.

» …with the doctor.

You grab the doctor, the music box falling from her hands, still playing. Orders or not, you’re not leaving anyone behind. Besides…

A Mnemnem is responsible for all of its people.

You flee.






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» What is “Adventure Guy”?

In the summer of 2010 I decided I wanted to learn how to draw, bought a tablet, and started drawing the first panels of Adventure Guy the same day. The goal was to update as fast and as furiously as possible to force myself to draw very frequently and improve over time. Eventually I decided I didn’t want to just throw away the adventure as a series of puzzles and got a bit more serious about it, introducing more story elements.

By the time it ended, seven months later, my art had gone from ‘very bad’ to ‘still bad, but with hints of actual art in it.’ It had also become much more of a writing project for me than I’d originally expected.

The story was run in a forum thread and all ‘commands’ and player actions were suggestions from other users on the forum. I’ve done some light rephrasing and less-light grammar tune-ups, but otherwise left them wholly intact.

For those who haven’t ready the story in full, I very strongly recommend reading further until you do, as it spoils most of the story. You can jump back to the archive here.

Below are some questions I was asked by players after the game concluded, as well as one or two extra clarifications.

» So when you started this thing, where did you think it would go? What elements were pre-decided and what developed naturally?

I started with a human explorer in a cave. I knew I wanted to subvert a lot of the initial expectations, but I didn’t know which elements were going to be the ones getting subverted. The closest thing I had to a plan was the notion of throwing as many different elements as I could into the first week or two of story, then building something out of that. I had a lot of potential ideas for each plot subversion that I ended up going with; for example, AG being a robot was a possibility from as early as the light/mirror room, but I didn’t decide to absolutely go with it until his arm started to lose power and turned off.

Most things were like that, where I had a few ideas but I didn’t nail any one down until I got to the point where I needed to. Other stuff, like the second researcher being alive, I had decided was the case well before, and always knew that that was where Gentleman would be whenever you couldn’t find him, and that him and the doctor were monitoring your progress and planning on manipulating you. One hell of a lot did get subverted, though: You were most certainly not a human explorer alone in an ancient natural cave system on Earth in the present day, in any sense.

Other stuff, like the music box controlling the weather, I just made up on the fly. That’s a better example of ‘throwing random stuff in and figuring out how they fit together later.’ I put a music box into the second room because I think there is something very magical and mystical about music boxes and I wanted it to do something supernatural or be a key element somehow, but I had no idea what. Then someone suggested playing it at the top of the mountain, and I was like “sounds good to me” and then that’s what it did. I built the entire base of the planet’s backstory around why particular notes and sounds were able to change the weather.

I also tried to keep my ‘plans’ very loose and vague, and open to being changed if the players want to push in a different direction. Very few things were ‘fixed,’ and everything was supposed to be able to be subverted if so desired, with the exception of Feringus’ commands. Those were intended to be fully dominating and frustrating; hence her often sending you off before you were done asking questions.

I did have a loose story concept after the first three-four days, but nothing really got refined or solidified until around when I introduced the relevant elements. As far as I can tell that’s the only real way to run a suggestion-based narrative where the story is a secret to the players. Otherwise you have to have everything planned out to a tee and then the players are hardly playing anything.

» Was there any reason for including so many puzzles?

Several reasons for this.

First, I grew up playing MYST and its sequels. I loved the way the games, particularly Riven, were able to integrate backstory with puzzles – and while I wasn’t able to emulate the seamlessness of this so well, I tried to make the puzzles in each room grow out of what the room was originally meant for, what happened there prior to the game beginning, and what the researchers were like. As I said, I didn’t know what the story was (or that there was one) when I started, but ‘puzzles’ always played a factor.

Second, something has to slow down the players from progressing. Unlocking a new room should be something special and earned, not just a matter of walking through a doorway! This is an adventure, not an open house! It’s not a game unless you work for your success.

And third, I just like puzzles! This did come back to bite me once the story had become a more prominent focus than the exploration. The players had more or less completely transferred their interest into the narrative elements, whereas I was still trying to get them to solve the infamous chess puzzle (which, okay, yeah, it was a little convoluted). Eventually it got to the point where they had ignored all of my nudges to check out an agenda AG had picked up with a password hidden in it for so long that I had another character do it and made them watch him solve it through the memory card viewer.

» Were there any commands the players gave that throw you off and were not expecting?

Most off-beat commands were still in the ballpark of ‘somewhat predictable,’ but there were definitely a couple. Some were awesome and some I was very reluctant to use.

Example of the former: Giving Skree the Junior Adventurer hat completely surprised me, but it’s easily my favourite command. It didn’t really affect the story at all, just the characterization, so I threw it in.

On the other hand, and this was the most daunting unexpected command, opting to circumvent Feringus’ last order and save her against her will totally threw me for a loop. I hadn’t honestly intended for that to even be possible – for the most part, even key story stuff, I did my best to keep things open to some degree, but you were never supposed to be able to hypothetically save her life, only her conscience. I just phrased her command as a simple ‘run’ for dramatic effect and wasn’t even expecting any suggestions between then and the finale segment. I was surprised and caught off-guard when I came back to see that that was the desired course of action anyhow. After I thought about it a bit, I realized how much better it fit the story and some of the themes, and I’m really glad it got suggested. Great example of the players bettering the story.

A lot of the early, random-action commands like kicking things or throwing rocks at things or generally being aggressive were eventually tied into some characterization later. I hardly would have advocated taking any of those actions in the first place, but they allowed AG to begin his adventure as a very reckless character who didn’t have much concern for anything living or otherwise, and end it as someone who found any form of life, no matter how warped and distorted, special and precious.

Other commands made hastily (such as telling Gentleman that there was another robot around) led to AG’s only ally getting brutally ripped apart. Since I wanted all player actions to have consequences, Patch ended up being written out of the story due to that, though I had planned on his role continuing further.

Also the make-a-sword thing, which basically came totally out of nowhere. It’s hard to say no to swords.

» Why did you choose to add music, and did you write it?

I wrote both of the pieces used myself, as I have a casual composition background.

“FACADE,” the lighter melody, was written to basically add some atmosphere and give a sense of mystery and majesty to the immense power of the changing, controllable weather. I didn’t want the function to be treated like a casual course of action, so I added it to force the reader to slow down a bit during that moment. The original track can be downloaded here, and a full-length version that I didn’t use can be downloaded here.

“FADE” was the inverse; a more intense variant that I wanted to play in the final stretch from the start. I took out two notes to make it feel faster and went for a sense of impressive dread, rather than impressive awe. It can be downloaded here.

Side note, regarding continuity: FACADE is the calming tune that is played on the electric keyboard to calm the weather. FADE is the instigating melody played on the music box to cause storms. They’re similar tunes, so the players got them mixed up once or twice by the end – particularly at the worst of moments in a late fight scene, much to their immediate regret.

» What was up with Gentleman? Why did he get crazy on us?

Gentleman started off as a rather apathetic-to-the-player neutral character, who wasn’t really concerned with what you were up to unless he had a way of benefitting from it. Around the point where he got knocked into the sewage vat and acid splattered over his robotic ‘brain,’ he started to seriously lose it, which turned him into an emotionally stunted aggressor with a murderous streak who wanted the Doctor’s attention all for himself.

His mild sense of social superiority stemming from his ‘upper-class-gentleman’ persona mutated into a serious inferiority complex in which he had to destroy all possible rivals to his Doctor-favoured position to prove his worth. AG, the robot who had both knocked him into the acid and was the Doctor’s main focus, became an obsession of Gentleman’s. He couldn’t prove his superiority as he was not allowed to kill AG, yet also could not sit idly by and let AG have the Doctor’s attention and interest.

By the end, he was just a psychotic hate machine who didn’t really know what he wanted and didn’t know how to express or resolve his feelings of sadness or inadequacy. He had no intention of seeking redemption, nor was he probably really capable of it, so in the end he was the only deceased character that AG didn’t build a grave marker for.

Still, grave marker or not, it’s safe to say AG is still affected by some of the things Gentleman said, especially during the Skree standoff. He insisted on keeping his wounds, after all.

» Have you done any other stories like this?

I ran Border Guard for a little while after Adventure Guy ended, but due to forum drama, decided to leave where I was posting the games. Since the player-base stayed behind, it just stopped short. The game’s brief run was going to be archived here, but there were some technical issues, so I’m afraid that didn’t happen.

I may be looking to write something else in the illustrated-suggestion vein in the future. We’ll see.


Chapter 11: Eye of the Storm

» Track Gentleman to find Feringus.

You retrieve your backpack, sword, and hat. You take Skree’s hat as well, for safekeeping.

Okay. Time to leave this broiling hot cavern. Goodbye, buddy.

You stand in the rain outside, sombre. You remember Feringus’ letter saying that she was going to the ship. Better start by looking there.

There is a massive, curved hole in the ceiling where the ship used to be. Looks like she’s already left. Only one place left to go now.

» Head to the core.

You rapidly descend into the oculoids’ domain once again, noticing how the already-cold tunnel seems to have chilled even more since your last descent. Can’t dwell on it, though. Gotta hurry. Who knows what…

Oh my. It seems Gentleman has beaten you here.

» Examine the statue. Try to determine if it’s still alive. Or active or whatever.

You approach the Mnemnem cautiously, trying to judge if he’s still alive, or… in whatever state of ‘living’ he once was. He has three strong slashes across his eye.

» Communicate with him.

A synesthetic fog reaches out to you but does not completely envelope you. It is quite weak.

hello, robot. skygod foretold your return. i have been waiting.

» Ask what happened since you were last here.

You ask what happened, though it’s not too hard to guess.

the monster-that-sees-in-two has come to spirit away the sacred plains. the fields will grow dead and barren, and the harvest will wither. her steward tears through the village. we are scared and defenseless.

» Ask what we need to do to stop Feringus.

You ask what you need to do to stop Feringus from draining the core.

this i cannot tell you. you must look into yourself. all beings are free, robot. that is the way of skygod. your restrictions are only an illusion. there is always another way.

» Ask what the core is like.

You ask what the core is like.

it is a window into the eye of skygod. it is beautiful.

You feel like he is trying to show you an image, but the mental link is not strong enough to pick it up.

» Is there anything you can do to save/help/heal/restore him?

You can feel the connection fading, and quickly ask what you can do to save it.

no. you cannot save me. it is my time. i am mnemnem. before me, there was another mnemnem. before it, another. when i pass, another still will rise to take my place. we have watched over our people through its eternity. we protect them. it is our way.

The white mist is nearly gone. Mnemnem’s arms unfold, finally relaxed, his duties finally fulfilled. He places a ‘hand’ on your shoulder, respectfully.

you must go, robot. the future awaits.

The fog dissipates, blowing away. Mnemnem seems to be swept into it as he fades. Then he is gone.

You ready yourself to go to the core.

» Go to the lit tunnel.

Standing in front of the long, circular hall, you cannot help but wonder at the remarkably convoluted series of events that brought you to this point, and what lies ahead. You feel like you’ve explored damn well everywhere on this planet! There is only one place left to go now.

You enter the core.

You are in the largest chamber you’ve ever seen. The rocky walls are perfectly smooth, and the room’s space is entirely spherical. Incredibly massive globes of swirling, viscous white light and energy gently float around the chamber. In the low gravity, oculoids propel their light bodies through the air from globe to globe, tentacles revolving. Some scoop small globules back into their mouths; others seem to sing to the fluctuating matter. It is an amazing sight.

The ship is floating here, ramp extended. A familiar robot stands on it. It seems he has been waiting.

» Run towards Gentleman!

You jump across the void towards the ship, which is slowly moving further towards the center of the area.

You land on the ramp, noticing that it appears to have some sort of personal gravitational force keeping your feet on it. Gentleman is waiting at the other end. You cannot help but feel that he is grinning behind the moustache.

» Ask Gentleman whether he is still forbidden from attacking us.

You ask Gentleman if his orders to not attack you are still in place.

“Well hello there, friend! Where’s your little companion?”

You grit your teeth and repeat the question.

“Right to the point, huh? Sure, I’ll tell you. There’s just one condition on the order: If I feel that my or the doctor’s personal safety is in danger, I’m admitted to use self-defense.”

He is certainly grinning now. “And my, you look mighty worked up, don’t you! Charging in here unsummoned, and with a sword tucked away no less! After all that speaking up for the creatures’ rights… Could it be that you’re on an assassination attempt to defiantly take out our master and protect your friends once and for all? Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re going rogue, auxiliary robot.”

» Tell him we mean him nor the doctor no harm.
» Inform Gentleman that we just want to speak with the Doctor, and couldn’t harm her if we tried anyway.

You insist that you certainly don’t mean either of them any harm, and even if you did, you don’t think you’re even capable of hurting Feringus. Besides, it was her own orders for you to explore and report back, which you haven’t done yet.

“Oh, boo hoo hoo. I recall getting a face full of roboknuckle not so long ago – and look at me now! I ought to be the ‘after’ picture for AuxBot Facial Enchancements. ‘Harmless?’ A bold-faced lie if you ask me.”

» Shove past Gentleman and enter the ship.

You’ve had about enough of this prick. You tell him that you’re going to talk to the doctor and he can go ahead and just stay out here by himself.

He doesn’t move. “Advancing on me? Oho! Awfully threatening coming from such a historically dangerous robot, you know! Your damaged memory chip might just be scratching the surface of your malfunction. Who knows how unbalanced you are?”

He stares at you darkly. “Seems to me that the thing an honest, morally upstanding robot assistant would do is make sure such a potential glitch gets resolved.”

» “For such an honest, morally upstanding robot assistant, you are showing a remarkable capacity for ignoring your orders. Maybe that’s why Feringus never trusted you?”

You comment that for a robot who subverts his orders as much as he does, it’s no wonder the doctor never trusted him. He fumes, his stance getting much more aggressive.

“YOU imply that I’M the one subverting my orders?! If you knew what’s best for you, you’d let me continue to protect the doctor’s best interests and go off somewhere quiet to deactivate yourself like a good robot.

“But you don’t know what’s best for you. Do you.” His claw snaps open.

» We should attack with our whip first, then attack with our sword. This way we can force him to claw on the whip. We should attack his lower left leg in a attempt to toss him off the platform. If he bends down to stop the whip with his metal claw, we attack while he is in this position.

As Gentleman menaces you, you quickly reach for your whip. He rushes at you, but are able to catch his leg before he gets too close.

“Trying to trip me up? Come on! You know I’m stronger than that.”

He snaps the whip with his claw, sending the shredded remnants into the expanse, not noticing as you retrieve your sword. Gotta be quick.

» Shout a witty one-liner and shove past him.

You tell Gentleman to go take a long walk off a short access ramp and knock him off into oblivion with the flat of your sword.

Before you can wave him off, he catches the edge with his claw.

He manages to flip himself underneath the ramp, using its personal gravitational field from the other side. You make a break for the ship but are grabbed by the leg.

You are flung back down against the ramp. Gentleman cackles from beneath you. “Oh, this is getting fun, isn’t it?”

» Stabilize ourselves on the platform so we ourselves do not get thrown/ripped off the edge

You quickly stand up and take a step back, not wanting to be within his reach. Stovebrand remains firmly in your grip. You certainly don’t want to lose it now.

Gentleman giggles. “What, you don’t wanna play? I thought you liked games. You and your pet had so much fun together that I just had to see what all the fuss was about! Don’t let me down now!

» Kick him before using our sword to stab him in his stupid robot face. If we let him cut off our foot, it buys us time for another opening to attack.

You move to kick him, but he intercepts your foot with his claw. As expected; you’ve packed a spare. You bring the sword around while he’s pre-occupied.

» Stab him, right in the face.
» Go for the eyes! Cut him in the eyes!

Gentleman crushes your foot, but you are able to stab downwards with your sword, ignoring the pain. You are quick, but not as quick as you’d hoped. Instead of hitting the exposed internals, Gentleman moves so that your sword misses its intended target—instead hitting his other eye, cracking the monocle.


The damaged eye explodes, ripping apart the casing around it.

» Flip over the side of the ramp with one hand and use the momentum to boot him off with both feet!

You dramatically flip yourself after him to take advantage of his moment of weakness. But you are not fast enough.


Just as you connect with him, he pushes off from the ramp, and the two of you go flying off away from the ship.

Gentleman shreds across your chest and through your arm. What’s left of it begins to float in the other direction, its grip still firmly on Stovebrand’s handle.

“Not so tough without your sword are you ARE YOU ARE YOU?!” he screams at you madly. “You are nobody to me! Do you understand that?? YOU ARE NOTHING!!!!!”

» Thrust-kick Gentleman to propel us back to the platform

You kick off of Gentleman, trying to launch yourself back to the ship.

Not quick enough. He grabs your stump, pulling you away from the ramp again.

“No running away not this time not THIS time!!” he roars. You can’t get away from him… but your brief launch got you just as far as you needed.

» Slash at him with the sword.

You strike down with your sword at his face. He catches it with his claw, inches away from his face.

“You can’t beat me! You can’t even defend yourself!!!” He continues cackling at you, but his damaged vocal hardware distorts it into a wild maniacal scream. “I am faster than you I am STRONGER than you I am SUPERIOR to you in EVERY WAY!!!!!! You’re just a dumb, weak, confused little robot. A weak–!! little–!! MACHINE!!!!”

He leans in, menacing you, and growls deeply, his voice glitching and distorting erratically. “What could possibly make you think that you’re better than me?”

You tell him that you’ve got one more free limb than him.

Gentleman stares back at you.

» When he grabs the sword, let it go and thrust-kick the handle.

You kick down onto the hilt of Stovebrand with your free leg, sending it piercing through Gentleman’s other eye and right through the back of his head, bursting through the external frame. The thrust launches you backwards towards the ramp, your dead leg slipping out of Gentleman’s loosened grip.

The last of him burns away as you reach the platform.

» Once you make it to the ramp, get your spare parts out! Put in another arm and replace your leg.

You toss your bag up onto the topside of the ramp and pull yourself over. Time to fix yourself up.

“Got in a bit of a fight, did you?”

Your repairs have been interrupted.

» Tell her we’ve come to stop her.

You tell her that she has to stop her plans to take the Chemical X immediately, or you’re going to stop her yourself.

Dr. Feringus laughs at you, brushing your serious tone off casually. “What, you? Really? Oh, that’s… that’s sweet, honestly, but regardless of whatever happened to you that made you think you’re different from the other bots, you’re not the least bit autonomous, and you’ve got a built-in overriding program that stops you from causing harm to a human. If I want to take all this energy, what on earth do you think you could really do about it?”

You stare at the ground, uncertain.

“Here, go on. Hit me. In fact, that’s an order. Close your fist up into a ball and hit me in the face as hard as you can, right now!”

You wind up to punch, fist clenched, arms shaking.

“Go on, hit me! HIT ME!

…You can’t do it.

“Don’t embarrass yourself. You’re no more than a robot. If I ordered you to, you’d jump right off this ramp and burn up into one of those globes just like your friend. I could even order you to be happy about it if I wanted to.”

» Ask her what happened to the village.

You ask her what happened to the oculoid village.

“The…? Oh! The creatures’ home, yes. I couldn’t tell you. Hardly gave it much regard myself. If it’s been disrupted, I imagine that was the work of my rather zealous assistant. He did show such… zest in carrying out his orders.”

She smiles sardonically. “You’re adorable, robot. Protecting these mindless animals from a danger they’re not even aware of? That’s what you think you’re trying to do, isn’t it? I mean, I’ll admit it’s endearing to watch artificial intelligence take responsibility for others unto its own, but there’s not really any point in your trying. You’re a little tin puppet, and I’ve got your strings. I mean… really, you don’t even know what’s going on here, do you?”

» Well… no, not really. Ask her about the purpose of Chemical X.

You admit that you don’t and ask what is so important about Chemical X.

She is silent for a moment, staring down. Then she begins to speak.

“I don’t really expect you to understand this, robot. Your design is… rather remarkably human, actually, but you’ve never spent any time on Earth. All you know is what your data banks of ancient caricatures and stereotypes tell you.

“We have been facing an imminent energy crisis for decades, now. We still have plenty, of course. But it’s all based on finding new sources in galactic exploration. And we’ve been using it faster than we can find more. Sooner or later we’ll be all out, and… things will become rather grim.

“When Les and I left Earth over two years ago, the riots were beginning. The government was beginning to restrict energy usage to prolong our stores. We were lucky to get out before martial law was enacted. There will still be energy for a decade or so to come, of course, or perhaps even two with careful rationing… but then our reserves will be emptied. So we needed something superior. Something lasting.

“There is no chemical compound actually named Chemical X as such. The term is a catch-all used to describe the hypothetical existence of an infinite energy source. We are standing in the middle of the first, and likely only, real source of a Chemical X. It defies physics and all scientific knowledge of the natural world. And it’s ours.

“Have you noticed how cold it is in here compared to the caves in the planet’s crust, or the surface? Or how close the planet is to the local star, yet without burning up or even being unbearably warm? It’s this source that keeps the planet cool and habitable by your cold-loving creatures, and they in turn support the source.”

“Watch, robot. Observe. Look at the creatures’ interactions. Some feed on the chemical, and others cry out to it. The vibrations in the oculoid calls cause it to react, and to grow. They take from it and give back to it, and the sudden chemical reactions cool the planet. It’s a marvelous work of natural evolution, really. There’s no predators, no real ecosystem to speak of. Just a planet and its creatures, relying on each other to survive.

“Now… imagine.”

You feel chill wisps rush past you. The nearest globe is beginning to destabilize, whirling looser and wider around its center. The swirls of cold energy seem to pierce the ship’s brilliant white surface, getting absorbed into whatever storage system is hidden away inside.

Feringus begins to speak more fervently. “A world without conflict, without need! We isolate the energy into tiny base amounts, then proceed to stimulate it with the correct vibrations until each new fraction of energy is a source as big as these, and then we repeat the process again, and again, and again! Energy farming, robot. We could grow it faster than we’d be able to use it!

That is what this is about, robot. Solving the energy crisis for the entire universe… and not just for ‘now.’ For all-time.”

» Inform Dr. Feringus that you don’t approve of her methods.

You tell her that you think her methods are both morally and ethically wrong, and that you don’t condone them.

“Yes, yes, I’ve heard it before. Death is wrong. To cause it is wrong. And yet so many around us die. So then the question becomes: who should decide who lives and who dies, and how ‘fair’ it is? Think of it mathematically, robot– you can do that much, I’m sure. You find out where the pros most greatly outweight the cons, and you make the decision. There’s no emotional weight involved. It’s just numbers.”

» Ask about Les’ death and how it occured.

Before she can continue, you quickly interject to ask how Les died.

She blanches, thrown off, and quiets.

“Les’ death was… unfortunate.”

She is silent a moment longer.

“We split the duties of locking down the facility before reconvening at the mobile submarine lab. The sub is temperature-resistant, you see, and the creatures would not be able to attack us if we retreated to there. Then we could formulate a plan to take back control of the facility and continue our research. He took the lower levels, sealing away the lab, the ship, and the generator. I took the upper ones, sealing the living space and gathering as much of our research as possible. I returned to the submarine first, and waited. But Les never returned.

“I knew after twenty four hours that he must be dead. There was no refuge in optimism. The large monsters were destroying the facility, and the smaller ones seemed to be on a rampage as well. I’ve never seen the clouds so black, or a storm so cruel. I feared leaving the sub. The beasts would tear me apart, surely. So I kept waiting.

“Months later… countless months… my hideaway was located by one of the auxbots – your friend there with the monocle. That was not yet even a week ago. He told me that he had discovered Les’ skeleton; mangled, as expected. This only served to confirm what I had already believed. But my actions are not ones of vengeance, or rage, or any other weak, over-emotional state. My actions are not meant to doom these beasts; that’s merely a welcome side-effect.

“I’m a scientist, robot. An intellectual. My work benefits the masses, and secures humanity’s future. If it causes some hiccups here and there? That’s just tough. It comes down to math, robot. Would I condemn one to save another? No. What about one to save two? One to save ten? Certainly something to think over. But one planet of… of docile vermin, to save a hundred million? I wouldn’t even blink.

“I don’t need to concern myself with the well-being of a planet full of animals. Would you have such an indignant moral problem with a planet inhabited only by buffalo? Or fish? Or apes?” She laughs. “Of course, because you’re fond of these creatures, that necessitates their salvation to doom countless others. I would have thought a robot of all things would be able to make the tough calls.”

» Ask if she would like to hear what you have learned of the oculoids.

You ask if she’d at least be willing to hear what you’ve learned about the oculoids.

“Learned? What you’ve learned? You mock my research, imply that there’s something I don’t know, something I missed? Robot, I know the physiology of these creatures inside and outside, backwards and forwards, any other trite colloquialism you’d care for. I spent months—years researching these disgusting creatures. I didn’t miss a thing.

“I tracked your interactions with the creatures, robot. You weren’t researching them. You were making friends with them. And useful as that was to finding their secret hideaway, it’s hardly appropriate to equate ‘play time’ with ‘exhausting scientific study.’

» Also ask her to tell more of these “vibrations” the magic energy stuff reacts to.

As you talk, an oculoid is blown onto the ramp. It is looking around rather blankly.

You say that if she expects you to think more scientifically, you need to know more about the scientific aspects of the chemical. You ask to hear more about the vibrations that are so crucial to inducing reactions in Chemical X.

She grins at your use of the word ‘scientifically.’ “You might just be able to redeem yourself yet, robot. Yes, a series of vibrations repeating at the proper tempo and tone can cause reactions much more intense than the minor ones the oculoid calls produce. The right series of notes at the right octaves… We discovered this musical link entirely by accident. Les brought a music box with his personal belongings as a memento from home. It took months to notice that the storms always seemed to coincide with the use of the music box.

“It sounds silly to say that a simple melody was so key to uncovering the chemical’s true secrets, but… it cannot be denied. The music would cool the planet, and the rapid cooling would trigger planet-wide storms of incredible magnitude. We brought out Les’ old piano and managed to deduct that an additional two notes, C and A, could produce a similar effect, but instead calming the storm. With both these triggers we will be able to grow the chemical at our discretion, then stabilize it when we are done our work. A magnificent system.”

The whirling winds around you are beginning to worsen. This sphere has nearly entirely become loose swathes and wisps circling its former mass, and the others seem to all be floating this way. You don’t think you have too much time.

“So then, robot, what is it? Will you pursue the betterment of humanity through science as well, or consign yourself to stay on this burnt husk of a planet, having both tried and failed to save your beasts?”

The stray oculoid is curiously investigating your bag.

» “Do you actually have to doom the oculoids? You said you can grow the chemical at your discretion. How much of it do you need?”

You feel rather put on the spot and try and sidestep the question, asking if it’s really necessary to take all of the chemical and leave the oculoids none with which to sustain the planet.

Yes, it is necessary. The chemical growth rate is incredibly slow. The more we have, the faster we can grow it exponentially. I don’t want a new unlimited energy source years from now, I want it today. Stop changing the subject and choose.” The doctor is getting rather fed up with you.

The oculoid seems to have lost interest in your backpack and is staring at the fading light trails in the air.

» Tell her about the oculoids’ mental bond! Quick, before she can shut us up!

As the last of the globe swirls off into the ship, you try to explain that she is prematurely writing off the oculoids as non-intelligent by way of ignoring their psychology.

She is most certainly angry now. “There’s nothing to study! They respond animalistically to physical stimuli, their screeching sounds don’t have any sort of pattern to them, and touching them just gives off a sort of fear-inducing pheremone, presumably made by some internal gland to scare off predators. There is nothing to study.

“I’m getting a bit tired of your stalling, robot. I’ve got somewhere to be that I’ve dearly, dearly missed these last two years.”

You are now in the center of the chamber, as best you can judge. The other spheres have been drawn towards the ship, and are beginning to come loose themselves, all at once. The light waves stream towards the ship from all directions.

» Commune with the oculoid and direct it to commune with Feringus.

Getting low on options, you pick up the oculoid. It seems to be enjoying the cold winds and pretty lights flashing by you. You direct it to talk to Feringus and greet her in a friendly manner.

Before you can put it down and let it crawl over to her, she stops you.

“Don’t let go of that thing.”

You feel your arms freeze up, oculoid still well in hand.

“Okay, robot, it was fun pretending you had a choice, but the short of it is that you’re coming back with me whether you like it or not. Now are you going to get over your faulty sympathetic artificially-generated personality issues and get rid of that creature of your own ‘free will,’ or am I going to have to teach you a lesson in obedience and make you?”

You flinch.

“Do it, robot. Put your hands together and kill it. Crush it! Pop its eye like a grape! Do it! That’s an order, robot, kill the oculoid!

» Begin crushing the oculoid… EXTREMELY SLOWLY.

You begin to kill the oculoid.

For a little while nothing happens. Swirling light continues to shoot past you. Some of the energy has come ‘loose’ from its wisps and is floating like snow in the air.

“Well? That was a direct order, you know!”

You know. But you’re not in any rush. Could take all day. A few days. Maybe even a month or two. No hurry.

You place the oculoid on the ground. You’re quite sure you’ll get around to killing it… eventually.

“What? What are you doing?! Pick it up, robot! Pick it up now!!

You tell her that the oculoids don’t have a ‘fear pheremone.’ They have a touch-induced method of communication going directly into your senses, a synesthetic union that conveys raw emotions. You learned this the first time you befriended one. She didn’t after two years. So then the question is, you say, who’s the real researcher here?

The oculoid begins to crawl towards Feringus.

“Get that thing away from me! Get it away! Are you listening to me, robot?!? I’m giving you an order!!”

Get ‘it’ away? ‘It’ isn’t very specific. She could be referring to anything. Maybe a rock somewhere. Maybe the sun. Certainly nothing you could do about that.

You tell her that the oculoids have a village, a history, their own culture and religion. A true scientific endeavour would have examined this civilization, learned from it. A real scientist would have known that figuring out the oculoids’ thought patterns and interacting with them would have been key to understanding the planet, especially knowing that the oculoids are the only sentient life form on the planet.

A real scientist wouldn’t have abandoned their principles in pursuit of an answer. A real scientist wouldn’t have seen torture as an acceptable way to further their own species’ advancement. A real scientist wouldn’t have forgotten what compassion was.

Feringus falls backwards, seemingly-paralyzed. The oculoid blankly keeps moving towards her.

“No! NO!!!! Get it away from me robot, do you hear me?! I’m a human! I’m your master! YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO ME, YOU HAVE TO!!!!

You hold out Les’ letter, and tell Feringus that even Les was uncomfortable with the actions being taken to ‘acquire’ the chemical, and was only continuing because he thought the actions would benefit humanity enough to be worth it. But he couldn’t mask his guilt as well as her. Or his conscience.

The oculoid communes with Feringus.


She abruptly cuts off and goes silent.

You say that she alienated her partner in her blind pursuit for success. She threw away her ethics. Her moral responsibility. You say that your ‘database of ancient caricatures and stereotypes’ might call those things a ‘soul.’ But a more modern term would be her ‘humanity.’

So she stayed, and convinced Les to stay. And her actions turned against her. But she never accepted responsibility for the consequences. Instead she just denied her role in Les’ death, hid behind her doctorate, and repressed all feeling until she was consumed by her desire to succeed regardless of what it took. Or who.

So much for ‘no emotional weight.’

The oculoid curls up in Feringus’ lap and goes to sleep.

Sphere-wisps floats in from all directions. The air is cold, but not nearly as cold as it first was. Snowy sparkles of energy dance in the air, being tossed back and forth gently by the rape of the world. Despite the whirling icy winds around you, in the eye of the storm the moment seems quiet and beautiful.

Claire begins to weep.

» Gently tell her that she can fix everything.

You’ve gotten through to her. No more need to talk her down any more.

You kneel down and tell her that she can fix everything. But she’s got to hurry. The energy’s nearly all gone.

“Fix everything…?” she says. “How? I can’t fix all those… all the deaths, all… we spent hours… all the… the deaths…” She is barely able to speak. “I can’t undo that, robot. I can’t… I can’t fix this.”

» Take only enough of the energy as you would need to make a solution, then leave the rest.

You tell her that she can compromise. Take the bare minimum of energy that she needs for the new energy source. Leave the rest for the oculoids. Everyone wins.

“No, robot. Everyone doesn’t win. I… I killed so many. And now I’m going to destroy their home. And I can’t do anything about it.”

You tell her to just put the energy she doesn’t need back in the core, then you can discuss morals afterwards.

Claire wipes some tears from her eyes, her voice regaining its confidence again. “It’s not simply about putting things here back to the way they were. The core… robot, the entire planet is cooled by this chamber. You know that. But the reactions the oculoids cause… are tiny. Their cries don’t revert the temperature back to any automatic ‘cold’ range, they simply make things a bit cooler than they otherwise would be. They merely keep it cool and stop it from warming further.”

You pause and consider the implications of this.

Claire stands up, pulling some sort of monitoring device out of her pocket as she does so. The oculoid formerly on her lap hops off the ramp and begins to propellor away. “The temperature of the planet is currently about thirty-five, maybe forty degrees hotter than is comfortable for the oculoids, and that figure is only going to keep going up. Releasing the energy could perhaps keep us at that level, though it wouldn’t stop the planet from essentially burning up. But I can’t revert it. There’s… there’s no hope, robot.”

She keels over, beginning to cry again. “I… I can’t even save them, after all I did to hurt them! I came here to help people, robot! I thought… I thought I could help everyone…”

The doctor pauses. The heat’s getting much more noticeable, even uncomfortable. The energy has been fully absorbed into the ship. “Perhaps then it would be best… No. Not ‘best.’ Perhaps it would be right to stay. I have done too much to simply disappear across the known universe and leave them to die alone. I will send Rusty back with the bare minimum energy necessary to power the ship and vent the rest back into the core. I must accept responsibility for my actions.”

She begins to head into the ship, her voice trembling very minutely. “I will be sending the ship off in approximately one minute. You will… no, I apologize. If you would like to return with Rusty, you may. Or you may choose to stay. You are free to do either. I will, however, suggest that you leave. You have done your part here.”

You are left alone on the ramp. The ship begins to flicker with black cracks of lightning. The chamber is empty; the spheres have disappeared into the ship and the oculoids seem to have fled to the village. It is just you and the now-sweltering, unrelenting heat.

» Explain to the doctor how to cool off the core! You’ve triggered the reaction before.

An idea strikes you. Reactions. You need to make the energy react.

You are pretty sure this will work. Better tell the doctor.

You enter the ship, finding Feringus working at the controls panel. A new mechanism you didn’t see before is hanging down, a small bit of energy floating in it. The white energy is flickering along the insides of the walls in massive amounts, incredibly unstable and entirely uncontained.

“So you’ve decided to go back, then,” she says as you enter, not turning around from the console. “That’s understandable. Wait here and the ship will leave shortly.”

» No, stay on the planet regardless.

You tell her that you’re planning on staying no matter what happens – but even better than that, you have an idea. You take out the music box and tell her that if it could cause storms when played on the surface, it could probably react even more intensely when played in here, maybe even enough to reverse the planet’s meltdown.

Claire marvels at the small music box as you hold it out. “…Amazing. The same trinket that lead us to discover the planet’s cooling mysteries helps solve them as well. Yes. Yes, I think that would work. Hold on, I’m going to vent the energy.”

There is a woooosh as the energy seems to seep into the walls and disappear. The interior darkens again.

You ask whether the ship has speakers that you could use to amplify the music box’s sound.

“No— …well. Once. We took them out when we set up the piano. Didn’t think we’d need them again. But no matter. I think the vibrations will be close enough to cause a react more than strong enough to lower the temperature acceptably. Perhaps more than enou…”

The last of what she says is just outside your hearing range as you rush down the ramp and back outside. You don’t know how much time you have left. Energy has begun to flood back out from the ship. You’ve got to do this now before anything else can go wrong.

» Play the music box.

You put your hand on the music box’s wind-up handle. All right. This thing better do what it’s supposed to for once. You prepare to turn it.

“Robot, stop. Completely. Do not move. Do not play the music box. Do not respond to me. Those are all orders.”

You feel yourself freeze up as the overriding functions following an order close off your will.

Feringus has caught up with you. You can only partially see her, unable to turn your head.

“The ship will be leaving shortly. I understand that you want to stay here. I warn you now that the reactions we will encounter shortly… will be rather strong. I cannot predict exactly how so. But I suspect the planet will become exceptionally volatile, and dangerous. Things may be hard for you.”

She takes the music box delicately from your unresisting hands.

“I don’t mean to interrupt your task. I mean to take it for myself. I have a terrible weight hanging over me. It must be relieved. I owe it to the cr— …the oculoids. This is my burden. I will not allow you to involve yourself further.

The ship’s door seals behind you, cutting through the still-extended ramp. It begins to float away, you with it.

“I used to hear these cries, robot. For maybe a year now. Screaming out in my nights. Sleeping was… all but impossible. I believed that Les was cursing me for abandoning him, that maybe if I had gone back I might have been able to find him before his injuries took him… that if I hadn’t been so damned insistent on finding the energy source then maybe this entire nightmare could have been avoided.

“I no longer believe those cries to have been Les’ now. Robot, I used to… I have… I have these dreams where…” She trails off.

“No. No more nightmares. Let us leave those behind.”

The energy has now fully vented from the ship, which crackles black ever more.

“I will give you one final order, robot. And this one you will obey immediately and to the letter.”

She holds up the music box with a great air of finality.

Run, robot.”

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Day 9846

My dearest Preston. I thought of you again last night.

I have told before of the dreams I so often have. Screams all around me, crying out. I cannot see their origin. Winds of ice and snow converge and threaten to drown me.

But then a hand reaches out through the storm and pulls me out. And I see that there was never a storm at all. Only brilliant white sunshine.

Each night in the dream as the hand reaches down, I think it to be yours and run to it. It never is. That is merely the trick dreams play on you, allowing you to imagine what you know cannot be.

The hand does not belong to you. It belongs to a friend of mine. You would recognize him if you saw him, but would not truly know him. He is more than his physical components would suggest. That is the mistake I once made.

My friend does not have a given name. He insists he has never needed one. There was a time when he thought of himself as ‘Adventure Guy.’ A curious association. More of a title than a true name. But that has since been discarded.

In our many conversations I have learned that my friend once believed he was human. He simply did not have reason to believe otherwise. And I have come to see him as more human in mind than could have ever been reasonably expected of a machine built for such a purely physical utility.

I find myself returning again and again to the question of how this could have happened. Was this a glitch, a hardware malfunction that caused new growth when it had never been intended? Or could perhaps all the robots of this model have had this spark of humanity in them that we had simply never noticed, or never allowed ourselves to see? …Or perhaps something greater?

I do not easily entertain the notion of the divine, Preston. You know me better than that. But there are times when I sit alone in my home and would swear that I can see something watching. It is only there for a hair of a second, then it is gone, and suddenly I feel as if it was never there at all. It looks familiar, but I cannot place from where.

I will not make any conclusions about what I saw. I would like to think of myself as better than that these days. Nonetheless, no obvious explanation presents itself. For now I will simply categorize the occurrences as ‘hereto unexplained.’

Whatever his origins, my friend’s respect for life is remarkable, even for those passed. In my first year with him he built a small burial ground on the mountaintop. I did not recognize all the names he marked. I do not inquire. He shares his own burdens.

We once hiked to the surface on a weekly basis, sometimes near-daily. That time has passed. I cannot make the trip nearly so often these days. He continues to return above without me. He says that he enjoys the adventure of it, but I suspect he merely wishes for time alone with his absent friends.

The oculoids call him ‘Mnemnem.’ I am not sure where the name originated, though as best I can tell he adopted it from one of the oculoids killed long ago. He does not wish to talk about it. I suspect there is a lot about his own adventures I do not know. Similarly, he has refused to allow me to fix his wounds, for reasons he will not expand upon. But that is not for me to know. I continue to respect his decisions.

His interaction with the oculoids is fascinating. He is marvelous with them. They follow him around and have begun to associate meanings with certain vocal intonations. Their capacity to learn and adapt is simply remarkable. He is teaching them to use tools as well. They are not especially dexterous, but in comparison with their first attempts years ago, they have improved a great deal. In time, and with his continued guidance, they will master it.

I myself have been serving as a physician to the oculoids. Somewhat outside the realm of my usual duties as a ‘doctor,’ but like my patients I have been learning new things. The oculoids have never cared for their sick before; it was best for them to write off those who would not recover. I imagine their population will soon begin to bloom.

As for the oculoids themselves… They are happier than any being I have before seen. They are quite fond of myself, certainly, but they utterly adore my friend. He spends all his time caring for them, entertaining them, playing games, telling them stories.

He is a remarkable storyteller. I wish you were here to listen. I occasionally recognize elements that seem familiar, but he is too quick, blending plots together before I can catch the resemblance. It is highly entertaining.

Though my friend accepts no name, I have privately begun to think of him as Alexander. He reminds me of you so. But so has everything these last years, it seems.

He will of course outlive me. There remains enough electricity to keep him charged for decades to come. Perhaps by then the oculoids will not need a caretaker. Until then, he will fill the role admirably.

I have grown old, Preston. I am not yet sixty, yet I feel twice that. Time seems to pass faster here. Things wear out quicker. There is such life all around me, but I feel so slow and creaky. My time will soon come. I do not fear that day. I was given a new chance to live my life for others; I feel I have made the best of that.

I believe it is summer now, where we grew up. On Earth. I think of it so often, but I no longer ache for it. It is a fond memory to be cherished. But nothing more.

I miss you terribly, Preston, but I will let you go now. I am tired of dwelling on the past. The future looks so bright. Perhaps one day I will see you there.

Goodbye, partner.

Claire Feringus, M.D.


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Chapter 10: Monsters

» Return.

You make your way back up to the volcano. Skree follows to the cave entrance.

The sub is here again. Gentleman is not here this time. You move towards the dock before you even think about it.

Your orders subside as you enter the lab – but the doctor is not here. Patch and the eighth robot are, though. Or were.

Oh god. Patch? Patch?! Damn it dude get up oh please oh shit oh shit

Something strikes the back of your head and you black out.

You wake up. You… aren’t dead, which is somewhat surprising considering the fate of the other bots. But your pack is missing.

» Swear vengeance on Gentleman and his mechanical cannibalism.

You are certain this was Gentleman’s doing. You swear to loose your just wrath upon him for his unforgivable mechanibalism.

» Examine stuff on desk.

You check out the desk. There’s a note, a small mug with some pens and pencils, a bank of memory chips, and some loose parts.

» Read the notes on the desk.

You read the note.

Day 805

An interesting encounter today. One of the auxbots had reactivated and managed to locate me in the mobile lab. It wears a monocle, a top hat, and a fake moustache. All once the property of Les, of course – I told him to keep his old theatre memorabilia well away from the robots, but I suppose with the facility in the state it’s in now it could not have been helped. Considered wiping its personality, but the social-elite persona it has developed seems… proactive. This robot will serve better as an assistant than a blind tool. I have tasked him with finding any information pertinent to the location of the source, using whatever means he deems appropriate to meet those ends.

Day 806

My assistant returned with Rusty today. The poor animal was near-starved. Doing better now. He continues to sit at the base of the ladder, day in and day out. His master will not be returning, but he will never understand that.

Day 807

Today my assistant returned badly injured. He had been knocked into the sewage basin next to the freezer, which melted away his frame. Knowing the acidity of oculoid nutrient waste, it is no wonder we stumbled across a way to create an explosive from its fluids. I have instructed him to make repairs. I have no spare parts here, but I cannot afford to lose my assistant.

In his debrief he mentioned something most interesting. I had already heard that other robots were re-activating and wandering the lab idly, but this one had befriended one of the creatures and had even attacked my assistant in order to protect it. Most curious. A possibility here arises in my mind that I had hereto not considered.

Day 808

Slow day. Little progress on my experiments. The robot with the pet creature monopolizes my focus. A plan is forming, but I must know more about my subject first. I must meet this robot. I shall wait until my assistant returns.

Day 809

Assistant has returned, with another deactivated robot and several parts. Most of morning spent building a new frame. Not suited for handiwork. More Les’ sort of thing. Will call subject robot after lunch.

Day 809, con’t

Brought subject robot to lab. It is as I suspected – it has developed a somewhat childlike sense of justice and caring. Surely it would not understand my motivation. Its opinion was comically naïve. Was forced to quiet it just to ‘pitch’ my bluff. Nonetheless, have successfully sent him on an errand disguised as a quest of sorts. His description of the ship confirms my fears that it is out of backup power and fuel. My gambit is a great deal riskier now. I must finally abandon the mobile lab and bring my last amount of the chemical with me in order to power the ship. Preparations are being made. Once we have the co-ordinates I will proceed to the ship immediately.

The next entry has no date listed.

can’t sleep again. can’t calm my mind. every time i shut my eyes my mind wanders and the dark dreams bubble and i open my eyes and i’m drowning in a wind of ice and snow and it’s suffocating and i can’t breathe, i can’t breathe, i can’t sleep, i can’t… preston. god, preston, why? let me sleep, damn you. all i want is some rest. please, god. i’m so tired. let me rest. please. please.

Day 810

After all this time–

It’s the core! The source is the core! We had ruled it out as too deep for such a chemical to hear the vibrations necessary to multiply, but somehow it has not only held out but in fact flourished! An astounding discovery – and yet one that in hindsight seems so obvious. How else could the planet keep so internally cooled? I will move to the ship immediately. My assistant has not yet returned – I do not know why. No matter. He knows my destination. He will have to meet me there by foot. And the subject robot… To think that such an emotional half-witted mechanism could help me make such a discovery. Such is life.

I leave for the ship presently. This then marks my final entry. I have spent nearly 27 months on this accursed planet. Earth, you need not wait for me. I shall only be a little longer.

Dr. C. Feringus, P.H.D.

» Grab the music box.

You recover the music box. It has been repaired, as per Dr. Feringus’ promise. You decide to keep it under your hat for now.

» Grab Patch’s leg and keep it with us. Retrieve pen and paper.

Unfortunately, you’re rather short of places to store things at the moment.

» Search the lab for anything else of interest. Like any memory chips.

There are three memory chips in the bank. You check them out one at a time.

They all display similar things.

Upon activation, it stared straight ahead to watch Gentleman tear into its companions.

Two tried to flee, one tried to fight. None of the three had any success.

One of them was dragged on its back to the sub lab. For a moment, you see Feringus examine it.

Then the feed cuts out.

» See if the sub controls make any sense.

There doesn’t seem to be any power on the ship.

» Wield Patch’s leg.

You clutch Patch’s leg fiercely. Not the best weapon, but as far as makeshift weaponry goes it’s not that bad. You don’t really feel much safer about this, though.

» Leg it to the ship!

If Feringus is going to the ship, you better hurry and book it there yourself. You head for the ladder.

Standing on the dock, you find Gentleman waiting, holding– Skree?

STOVEBRAND is jammed into the ground nearby, with your pack hanging from it.

» Stroke Patch’s dismembered leg elegantly while you inquire why he his grasping your best friend.

You try to look both menacing and distinguished as you demand to know why he’s holding Skree.

You also take this moment to approach your stuff.

“Well, it just looked like so much fun when you were doing it that I had to try it out for myself. Interesting creatures! Did you know this whole time that they communicate through emotions? Fascinating! I had to figure it out for myself, of course.

“Right now, this one’s scared and feeling a bit hot-headed. Perhaps it’s got a fever. Shame we don’t have any doctors handy, isn’t it?”

» Tell Gentleman that Feringus is planning on abandoning him.

You tell him that Feringus is abandoning him and heading for the core on her own. He laughs.

“You’re not the only one who can read notes carelessly left around, robot. I’m sure I’ll be able to catch up with the good doctor at the core. Just as soon as I’ve tied up a few loose ends.”

» Ask what he wants.

You narrow your eyes and ask what he wants, placing one hand on your sword.

“Want? You have no idea what I want!” he shouts at you, losing composure. “You don’t remember anything! You don’t have to deal with your sense of purpose being chipped away at bit by bit! Do you know what it’s like to have a life dedicated to servitude, to go seeking out your master after she’s abandoned you, only to have her focus all her attention and interest on another robot who doesn’t even care?! NO!

“And all because you’ve made… friends with this creature. Nothing I do can ever be good enough because I’m trying to actually be helpful instead of wasting all my time gathering pets! You don’t even know what your purpose is. I’m ashamed to be the same product model as you.”

Skree cries out. Gentleman’s grip seems to be tightening in his rage.

» Ask him to calm down. You can sort this out peacefully. Also note that Les wouldn’t have approved of hurting the oculoid.

You drop the leg and try to calm him down, but it only seems to aggravate him further. Skree cries out again. He seems to be out purely to spite you; your attempts to pacify him are causing him to hate you more for your sympathizing. He seems to be looking for reasons to hate you.

You point out that Les would not have approved of hurting an oculoid.

“You act like you know him. You don’t know him. You don’t remember a single god damn thing! Les was the one who discovered that the creatures held the chemical, and let me tell you, he was very enthusiastic about getting it all out of them.”

» Explain to him how it hasn’t been easy for us, that you have been trying to find our sense of purpose. Forgetting everything hasn’t been as easy as it sounds… tell him how we had to search for the truth… and that we are still searching.
» Inform Gentleman that you’re only an ‘interesting experiment,’ while he is a reliable and valued assistant.

You try to explain the difficulties you’ve faced trying to find your own purpose. When you woke up, you thought you were some kind of human explorer lost in ancient ruins… and now you’re just an amnesiac robot in a hat. Meanwhile, the doctor actually relied on and confided in Gentleman as an assistant, and if not an equal, as more than simply a robot.

He is silent for an interval. Then: “That’s… that’s not…” Another pause.

No!” he yells finally. “Don’t try and talk your way out of this! You are the only thing standing in the way of taking the place I rightfully deserve! You don’t have a purpose? You don’t remember it? Fine. Then stop getting in the way of me and mine.

» Ask him what he wants us to do about it. Not that there is much. Also inquire the possibility of of taking in a oculoid as a friend. Tell him it’s how we’ve compensated.

You ask what he expects to do about the doctor’s favouring you.

He chuckles lowly. “Believe me, champ, I can deal with that on my own.”

You tell him that if he wants a friend, there are plenty of other oculoids, and you’re sure one of them would make a great companion for him as well.

He stutters for a moment at the word ‘friend,’ then rebounds and shouts back. “These creatures—aren’t—friends. They’re animals. They’re test subjects. They’re a means to an end!”

He throws Skree’s hat down. “You think this creature is special because you gave it a little accessory? Well now it looks like all the other mindless beasts on this rock. So what now, Mister Guardian?”

» What’s in our inventory, again?

You quickly peek into your pack.

You’ve got a spare arm, a broken-and-empty bottle of Glen Avon whisky, an empty oil can, Les’ skull, a broken egg, a dead bird, a mechanism from the inside of one of the bots, the music box (which you quickly slip in from under your hat), Les’ ID card, the eyedol, two coins, two locker keys, a whip, a ball of cord, and a tin of Dapper Dan Men’s Pomade. Plus the loose leg you’re holding.

» Doff your own hat.
» Tell him what a hypocrite he is.

You defiantly knock your own hat off and call him out on wearing silly accessories just like Skree is, but hypocritically calling Skree a mindless beast while denying that he’s calling himself a brainless creature wearing a get-up too. You say that you, Skree, and Feringus are sentient creatures who all deserve the same respect. And so does he.

Gentleman looks down, saying nothing.

» Explain to Gentleman that you have found proof that the oculoids are more than animals, and offer to show him the storyteller if he doesn’t believe it.
» Show Gentleman the idol and ask him if it’s the work of a bunch of animals.
» And also present Preston’s letter as proof that he reconsidered his views on oculoid rights towards the end.

You tell him that you’ve got proof that the oculoids are not just beasts or pets, and that you can show him all kinds of stuff to force him to believe it.

You go scrounging around in your pack for evidence to make your case. Something at the back of your mind is bothering you about the whole standoff situation. Why would he go to the trouble of knocking you out and taking your bag, just to give it back?

Seems a little empty in here, actually. Is something missi–

» The canister with the M on it is gone!

Oh. Oh god no.

Gentleman is holding the M canister over Skree. He is shaking slightly.

» Try and calm him down. Appeal to his better nature, if he has one. Slowly move closer, and keep speaking.

You tell Gentleman that his irrational actions are all out of fear to admit that you and him are the same, and that both of you share a caring conscience.

Gentleman is noticeably shaking now. He seems to be having some kind of internal crisis.

“You weren’t… you weren’t supposed to be nice. You weren’t supposed to be nice!

He snaps again, pausing for a quiet moment, then laughing lowly.

“You think I can be ‘saved,’ don’t you. You think all of us can be ‘saved.’ I can’t believe your naïvety. Do you really think I can be reasoned with? Hell, do you even know what I’m holding? You don’t have a clue!”

» Ask him what, exactly, does the M canister do.

You nervously ask him what the canister is. He does not directly respond, but a chuckle confirms your fears.

“Do you know how we administered the first doses of the mutagen? We used a syringe. The smallest amounts could cause an intense reaction, you see. The test subjects grew rapidly, both in size and ill-temperament. Incredibly powerful beasts. Not even our restraints were strong enough to contain them.

“I wonder what would happen if I were to administer it all at once.”

You tell him not to do this, your voice betraying your growing panic. He begins to laugh more manically and continues.

“You know, I would have liked to have killed you far before this. Because you make me sick. And angry. And… and jealous. But I’ve been expressly ordered not to hurt you unless in self-defense. And as I’m sure you know, there’s just no fighting an order.

“But there’s always a way to sidestep one.” He shakes the canister slightly to emphasize his point, jostling the liquid around.

» Tell Gentleman that’s an incredibly stupid idea that’s liable to backfire.

You plead out one last time for him to stop, this time trying to appeal to his own sense of self-preservation. He ignores you entirely. Shit. Time to try a different approach.

» Snatch the M-canister from his hand with your whip.

You quickly fumble through your bag for your whip and crack it towards Gentleman. It catches the canister perfectly, but you cannot pull it out of his powerful claw grip. Gentleman continues talking, unconcerned with your failed efforts to stop him.

“I think… I think you’re right, you know. About us. Maybe we are all the same. You, me, the doctor… this creature. But we’re not caring beings, full of love and acceptance.”

“I think we’re all monsters.”

He crushes the canister, his metal claw shredding the end of the whip as well. Liquid bursts out, falling across Skree’s eye and pouring over him.

Gentleman releases his hold and Skree falls to the ground. “Play nice, robot,” he says, slipping away towards the volcano’s entrance.

You immediately rush over. Skree? Little buddy? You’re going to be okay, right?

Skree is shaking, tentacles flailing everywhere. No no no. Okay. Not cool bud. This is not a funny joke. Stop faking this and get up pal.

Buddy. Come on. Get up. Come on now. Come o–

Oh no. oh no oh no oh no oh fuck oh no

skree please don’t do this this is wrong this shouldn’t be happening why is this happening please buddy no

» Play the music box.

You rush to your bag and grab the music box, winding it up. Need to calm him down quick before he gets too out of hand.

As it plays, a thought occurs to you. When you played the notes on the piano, you calmed the weather and put Skree to sleep. When you played the music box, it caused a thunderstorm. Which means…


Skree flips out at you. If he wasn’t aggravated before, he definitely is now.

You hear sounds of rain and thunder from outside.

» Run.

You try to run but Skree jumps over you and blocks your path, screeching at you again. The music box has sent him into a frenzied rage.

» Touch Skree.

You make a desperate attempt to try and communicate with Skree, hoping you can calm him down that way.


You are thrown back by an overwhelming convulsive storm of rage, misery, and pain.

» Whistle the calming song from the piano.

You desperately try and whistle FACADE. Your efforts are not very loud.


You are thrown against the ground, hard. Your frame has been bruised a bit.

» …Attack.

You find yourself with little option but to take up your sword, if only in self-defense. Perhaps if you can scare him off or give yourself an opportunity to flee, you can make your way to the piano room and play FACADE again to try and calm him down.

Sorry, buddy. If you’re still in there.

» Coat Stovebrand in Dapper Dan’s Pomade

You take out the tin of pomade you’ve been carrying around all this time and rub some of it along Stovebrand quickly. Maybe if you can irritate his eye you’ll scare him off.

That, or he’s going to be the most dapper dead junior adventurer oculoid this side of the galaxy.

» When Skree advances, grip the hilt tightly, leaping as hard as we can straight up. Try and cut at his pupil to blind him.

Skree lurches towards you again. Here’s your chance. No hard feelings, buddy.

You slash upwards at his eye as he rushes you, making a cut perpendicular to his pupil-line. Skree howls in pain and rage.

» While he’s blinded/recoiling from the hit, we quickly grab our stuff and abscond.

The beast recoils in pain. Now’s your chance.


You are knocked down again, this time just over the lip of the rock. You manage to grip the edge, but only barely, your feet dangling just over the magma below.

You pull yourself back onto the rock and take up Stovebrand again. The pomade definitely manage to irritate him, that’s for sure.

» Throw our broken bottle at Skree’s wound.

You try to fend Skree off with the broken Glen Avon bottle. Skree howls in rage as the sharp glass tears into his wound.

» Hold the sword between you and Skree, try to edge out of the cavern. Wait for Skree to attack first, slash at his tentacles when he does.
» Hold our sword in a guard stance, and advance on Skree, slicing at any opening or squishy target.

You hold the sword before you as you back away from the raging beast. The threat of pain, unfortunate as it is to inflict, ought to keep him at bay long enough for you to escape.

Skree makes another charge at you, and you slash out again. His vision’s got to be getting pretty bad now. Perhaps he’ll lose sight of you.

» Keep at it until Skree retreats.

As you begin to pack up your stuff, Skree growls gutterally, preparing for another charge. You think after this cut he ought to properly retreat and you’ll be able to get away safely.

He begins to charge at you again, and you ready Stovebrand.

You slash at his eye to fend him off, but Skree does not recoil this time. He continues rushing, directly onto the sword with a sickening ‘shlunk.’ You stare in horror at your friend, now impaled through the eye.

Skree is still. You risk another touch to see if he is dead.

The frenzied storm is still there… but you are not thrown back this time. Something is behind the maelstrom.

You are forced out of the connection.

Skree is still, hunched and tranquil. The sword remains lodged in his eye.

You embrace him desperately but there is no response. There is no warmth or comfort here. All you hear are the idle scatterings of rain, endlessly beating against the mountainside.

Previous Chapter | Archive | Next Chapter

Chapter 9: Mnemnem

» Make some of the explosive gel. The notes are underlined already, right? Just follow the instructions.

You take Skree back to the lab, rather glad he didn’t understand any of the images on the monitor. You wish you hadn’t, either. No, better not think about that much more. Okay. Next step is to figure out how to make this explosive gel thing.

Additionally, the amount of fulgurite and raw nutrient fluid we must burn up to produce the most insubstantial amount of pure Chemical X is excessive to the point of hyperbole.

The set-up looks complicated, but isn’t as tough to figure out as you thought. You leave the fulgurite in the catalyst input, unplug the dry hose, and attach the small X-UNREF test tube to the CHEMXFEED input.

You activate the burners and the machine goes to work!

You end up with a somewhat suspended fluctuating matter-thing. Presumably this is what refined Chemical X looks like? It’s not very useful on its own, though.

Our experimentation has produced several interesting results. By inputting pure Chemical X into the intake and mixing it with caern dew, a volatile, highly unstable explosive gel is created.

You repeat the process, hooking up the CAERN DEW to the catalyst input and sticking the refined Chemical X into CHEMXFEED. This time a dark, thick, black mixture is created.

» Use the gel to clear out that rubble.

You turn off the burners, done with science for now, and head to the Rec Room. Bloop bloop bloop. You pour the gunk all over the rocks then take a step back.

Hope this works!!!!

(it does)

That was fun! You’ve also managed to finally clear (disintegrate, even) that stupid pile of rocks that probably knocked you out in the first place. Take that, cave!

» Comfort Skree. He seems a bit scared at the moment.

You give the little guy a hug. He was a bit put-off by the loud noise and sudden burst of heat, but seems all right now.

» Take that rod out of the door.

Yoink! You remember this nifty little thing from quite a long while back.

» Head back to the spaceship room and place it where it needs to be.

You pop the rod into the little holder thing and hear the mother of all whirr-clunks.

» Is it on now? If so, find out how far we are from Earth using computers on the ship.

You enter the ship to find it now faintly humming and a little better lit. The static-y interface on the main monitor is gone, replaced with computer readings. The orb is re-lit as well. The broken monitor on the console remains static-y.

You position the indicator over the planet it was originally on. This time a text display pops up. You are on Aoide I, locally known as Procella!

Letting go of the navigation display, you see that a course has been set to go to Earth. It is 155,001,033.153 light years away, rounded! Apparently there is no fuel left, so it doesn’t look like you’ll be heading anywhere any time soon though.

» We should probably go unlock that beam door in the chem lab.

You return to the lab and punch in PASS155. The lasers fizzle out and allow you to pass. Time to find out what’s so important in here.

The room is black, with weak lights alongside its walls revealing silhouettes. Too dark to see, though.

You step a bit further into the room and the lights turn on with a mechanical clunk. Giant oculoid mouth-appendages hang on hooks from a conveyor track on the ceiling. Some are withered and wrinkled. Some are full, and you cannot help but get a sense of ‘ripeness’ about them as well. One has a grey tube hooked into it.

In the center of the room is a small podium with a circle and handle in place, and a small, familiar-looking key sitting on it. There is a jug of ‘SOLVENT’ on the ground as well.

» Turn the crank.

You attempt to turn the handle but it refuses to turn very far. The hose is still in one of the appendages and is keeping the entire wheel in place.

» Take the key; unlock locker.

You unlock the final sun locker and find… a note. It’s in Les’ handwriting.

Never was much of a fan of self-reflection. Not really my sorta thing. I figure you do things right the first time, you never have to worry, and if you think things through well enough before you do ‘em, you do it right every time.

We didn’t think things through well enough.

You ever been in… well, it don’t feel like a daze at the time, but you look back and you can’t for the life of you remember why you did it that way? Ain’t no point in bothering with all that inner turmoil and asking ‘What was I thinking?’ and that sort of spiritual emotional bullcrap. I knew exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking ‘Hot dog, I’m gonna have books written about me!’ What I can’t figure out is why. I never once in my life before cared about fame or fortune or glory or all that crap. We came out here because we had a hunch, and if that hunch was right, we had a fair shot of fixing up the entire human race for the better. We risked everything on this. Leased out some bots we knew we couldn’t repay the interest on. Sold my house to help cover my half of the ship cost. We called it an educated guess, but it was never more than a hunch.

And it was right, god damn it. No progress for damn near a year, then we find these creatures. And we…

No tiptoein’ around it. It was tough on the buggers, and hell, it was tough on us slaving away month after month, but it was all worth it. We found it. We could come home, be heroes, bring back a fully-funded expedition, figure out how to extract or maybe locate it in larger quantities. Whoever found the motherload would get the king’s share of the credit, but that was all right with me. Don’t need no name recognition. Not like I’d have to worry about research grants again anyhow.

But we didn’t stop there. And that’s where the haze starts to seep in. Why’d we keep going? Why didn’t we go back? Maybe we could just work a little harder and find the source ourselves. Maybe we wouldn’t get taken seriously without something more to show for a year and a half’s toil. Any number of reasons. But we stayed. And we pressed the creatures past any scientific search for understanding, and damn it, it bit us in the ass.

Going to head down to the generator and shut it down, finish the system lock-up, then head up to the mobile lab with Feringus. Too hot for the creatures in the volcano. We can plan a proper escape from there. Caves down by the generator are too small for the big’uns to get into, but the little ones have been getting more and more riled up since the breakout. Can’t say I feel safe, but what’s coming’s coming. Probably worse now that I spent half an hour writing this goddamned pour-my-guts-out self-reflective love letter to a shrink’s office. Certainly don’t feel any better about this mess after writing it down. But it felt like the right thing to do.

Leaving this here to appease my own conscience. Or maybe my guilt, can’t say for certain. Only thing I can say for sure these days is that I’m the only one with either left.

Doctor P. A. Les

» Pour solvent into acid goop.

You dump the solvent out into the acidic sewage basin.

It clears! You can see the water medallion lying beside the drainage grate. The meter near the basin clicks up to the other end.

» Fish out the medallion.

You pick up the medallion and add it to your inventory. It’s not shimmering or anything, so this solvent-plus-melty-goo stuff probably isn’t exactly water.

» Put the medallion in the water in the room that’s up the fireplace’s chimney.

You take the water medallion to the spring and splash it in. It gets all sparkly like the others.

» Pop open our head hatch and stick the medallion in what little open space is left.

It’s a pretty slim hatch, and the medallion isn’t exactly soft enough to squish in. You slip it under your hat instead.

» Show Feringus the letter.

You lower the water level and head back into the volcano, but the sub hasn’t come back yet, and you don’t really have a way of contacting it. You guess Feringus is going to alert you when she’s ready? Geez, how long did she expect you to take picking up those chemicals?

» Take the medallion back to the door.

You take the shimmering water medallion and place it into the final slot in the room you woke up in.

Nothing seems to be happening. You take a step back and wonder what exactly you expected from this.

Oh? A handle has popped up.

You open the manhole and are suddenly buffeted by cool winds being released from the depths.

As the winds subside, a river of oculoids rush past you and into the hole. Skree disappears along with them.

Wherever this leads, it seems to be the last place left to explore. Only one thing to do now.

You descend.


…and deeper…

……and deeper…

You finally see light up ahead through a large opening.

Stepping into the light up ahead you find yourself in some sort of… village.

» Try to talk to the locals.

You pick up an oculoid. It doesn’t seem to be thinking about anything in particular. It is pretty satisfied and carefree.

Skree is quite jealous of your affection!

» Explore the holes.

You wander into a hole and find a little circular room carved into the rock. Two oculoids are sitting in here, not doing much in particular.

In another you find an oculoid digging out the room a bit more. A cocoon-looking thing sits in the middle of the floor.

An oculoid sits on a pile of hammers here. He appears to be rather proud of his collection.

He yells at you when you move to take one. Okay, okay, relax buddy!

» Look up into the light passage, specifically, does it seem to be daylight coming down or some other type of light?

You stare into the passage and see… only light. It is shimmering and wondrous, but distant.

» Explore it.

You move to ascend the tunnel but feel a subtle impulse to examine the statue.

» Examine the statue more closely

You walk up to the statue in the middle of the room. It’s a much larger version of the one you have in your bag, and is sitting on some sort of little stone pedestal. Hm. Not that interesting. Time to get back to that tunnel.

You turn to walk away and find that the world has been replaced with some sort of white expanse.

hello, robot.

» …Uh. Say, “Hello, statue.”

You say hello to the statue.

i am no statue.

» Show it the small statue.

You hold out the small statue of it to show it what you mean.

you hold an idol. and yet i am not.

» ask what it is.

You ask what it actually is then.

i am mnemnem. speaker of the people. shepherd of the sacred plains. guardian of the farmers.

i am the keeper of history and the last of the storytellers.

» Remark on how it appears to have a drum on its head

You point out that its hat looks like a big drum.


» Ask it what the idol is.

You ask what’s up with the eyedol looking just like it.

it is an effigy of skygod, much like i myself am made in its image.

» Ask of what services we can offer and apologize personally if we are intruding.
» Ask if it has any quests for us to do.

You apologize for butting in to its village and ask if it needs you to do anything.

you intrude not. i have been waiting a long time for one like yourself.

but i can ask nothing of you. i can instruct you not. i can guide you not. your choice is your own. this, i cannot foresee.

there are no quests. only a duty. a responsibility. a question. will you take it? it is this fork you will find yourself at. it is this choice you will make.[/font]

» Ask what the deal with this place is.
» Ask it to tell its story.

You ask it to tell you its story.

i cannot guide you. but i will tell you of our people. when you have heard all i have to say, only then will your paths present themselves.

my people are as children to you. they are simple. happy. devout. they want nothing but to eat, play, and rest.

this is all they know. this is all they have ever known. but before… i remember.[/font]

we were taller. we were strong. we were complex, sad and wistful. a people that could take care of themselves. guide themselves. find their own joys and happiness in whatever form that would take.

it was skygod we loved, and skygod we feared. skygod was benevolent. skygod was wrathful. we relied on him for the harvest, and his blessings were bountiful.

we built temples. idols. places of worship. testaments. as skygod fed our people, we repaid in faith.

we knew nothing of war. of suffering. there was loss, but in balance there was life. there is a practice you call hunting. we did not hunt. we were farmers. and in our slumber we grew fat and slothful.

our kind weakened. our strength, once thought to be a pillar of permanency, left us. a decision was made. our world within a world was sealed away. we could no longer defend ourselves, grow, age, advance. all we could do was conceal ourselves so that none would smell our stagnation.

ages passed and we became shorter. our hands, less dextrous. our legs, less precise. we sleepwalked through generations, and we lost ourselves in our unconscious.

do you see, robot? do you see the farmers now? they do not think on their own. they cannot remember. they know only of the present, and only of the plains, and only of skygod. they cannot be awoken now. their slumber is too suffocating.

i am mnemnem. before me, there was another mnemnem. before it, another. when i pass, another still will rise to take my place. we have watched over our people through its eternity. we protect them. we are the keepers of memory. we are infinite in number. the people speak to me, and i speak to the people. through this, we achieve a consciousness that even in dreams all can share. it is our way.

i see your kind. the monster-that-sees-in-two. they come here looking. searching. watch as they enter our world from skygod’s domain. they do not find our chiefs. our captains. our leaders. they find centuries’ worth of children. no longer evolving; simply maintaining.

they disturb us. and we venture forth, released once again into the world. we are not awakened, merely restless in our hibernation. we are curious. what are these beasts?

our infantile curiousity betrays us. we are cut down in our sleep.

this is as far as the story goes. yet even now, new chapters wait to be written. the storyteller waits, quill poised, with bated breath. his muscles are tensed. what tale will be told? what story will be woven? mnemnem waits.

i cannot foresee your future, robot. but i foresee a choice. you approach the forks, robot. how will you choose when you arrive? it is this and only this that you must question.

» Ask about free will, about what you are, about what the humans control over you means for that

You try to explain to mnemnem that you are a robot, and that the humans are able to restrict or mandate your action or inaction.

you do not believe yourself to be free? what an interesting notion. yes, you are free. all beings are born and die with free will in this world. one cannot change that with electronic rules.

when one avenue is blocked, another is opened. you shall always have a choice; you may simply have to discover it for yourself.[/font]

» Also ask about the light tunnel.

You ask what’s up with the cold passageway of light.

it is the doorway to the sacred plains. through skygod the plains’ harvest give us life and protects our world, and through our worship we give thanks for its blessings. it is a harmonious and delicate balance.

» Ask about the substance that the humans want.
» Tell it that the monsters-that-see-in-two are called humans and these two are here only to find a substance to most likely power their machines to let them travel great distances.

You try to explain who the humans are and what they want.

they wish to rob us of our crops. their rationale matters not. their gain necessitates our loss. we shall starve and burn in the hot sun.

» Ask what you could possibly do in this situation.

You ask what you can do about all this.

i cannot tell you. you must decipher this for yourself.

You feel your vision—or rather, your weird mnemnem-induced group dream—being overcome by static.

go now. the forks approach.

The volcano. The sub. You are being called back.

Previous Chapter | Archive | Next Chapter

Chapter 8: Understandings

» Take memory chips out of the robot heads and view them.

One of them has had its head ripped open and its chip has certainly been either destroyed or taken. The other –


This one’s still active! You rush over and pick it up gingerly. It speaks.


It does not respond to your attempts to engage it in conversation. Its speech is very choppy and static-y. As you can see, the chip has been removed.


It is no longer relaying the message in the proper order.


Electricity within its glass skull ceases flickering. The eye-lights go dark.

» Try to salvage some metal parts.

You examine the loose parts scattered around. Aside from the gears, you don’t really recognize it. One of these things has tubes and wiring and stuff all over it. You don’t really want to touch this stuff, but you grab one of the oblong taped-thingies and put it in your bag. It’s pretty full as-is anyways.

» Remove the labcoat so we don’t freak the oculoids out so much anymore.

You take off the lab coat, feeling extra-conscious about your silly attempt to be a scientist. You place the coat over the frame of one of the robots.

» There’s an arm stuck in the machine right there; take it.

You grab the arm stuck in the busted machine. Patch would probably appreciate this. Actually you feel pretty dumb about giving him your notes when he has no way to flip through everything.

» Try key on lock.

Nope. Your locker key won’t fit here.

» Call Skree back to us and haul ass back to Patch as fast as we can.

Before you can call Skree, he bounces down the walls and onto your head. He is very agitated.

help help do good stop bad help pain bad sleep sleep

He directs you upstairs. The monstrous oculoid is wheezing now, its head lowered. Skree is urging you closer.

» Approach the giant oculoid more carefully, making sure your every intent is to help.

You approach the beast cautiously. It is still pretty tough to tell what Skree wants. You keep getting a brainful of “pain bad do good help good.” The monster is agitated by your presence, but does not become aggressive as last time.

As you get closer one of the small oculoids dives at you! Waugh!

The other oculoids pile on. You are rapidly becoming immobile. At the same time, Skree’s synesthesis is intensifying.

You are now completely dogpiled… but something else is happening. The oculoids’ sensory communication is becoming stronger.

» Try to do what Skree wants.
» Commune with the big oculoid.

You are beginning to get the idea… but just to be sure, you struggle across the floor slightly and reach out a hand, barely able to lay it on one of the big oculoid’s tentacles. As you do so, the synesthetic visions dissipate suddenly.

The other oculoids jump off of you and spread out as a powerful black fog begins to obscure your senses.

You are completely ensconced in darkness.

You pick yourself up, wondering what exactly is going on.

A presence is here.

» Wait to see what happens. Try not to freak out.

You are not certain what is going on. Perhaps this is the giant oculoid’s more powerful version of Skree’s synesthesis.

» Greet the presence.

You can’t seem to move your mouth. But you are able to form words somehow.

» Inform the presence that you were not to blame for the actions of the ones who look like you.

A powerful sensation of pain and trauma suddenly begins to overwhelm you.

You fall to your knees, head reeling.

You are forced to the floor.

The pain abruptly stops.

» Ask what we can do to help.

» Ask him more about what happened to him.
» First ask a few questions.
» Ask if there’s anything he wants us to do after he’s gone.
» Ask if he’s seen Gentleman
» Ask “You want me to end your life? I don’t want to kill you, is there nothing I can do for you?”

» Hug oculoid presence-thing.

» Save the oculoid

You are covered in oculoid eye-goop. Ewwwwwwww.

Skree is sitting up here idly watching you. The other oculoids seem to have dispersed a bit. They don’t seem to concerned with anything in particular.

» Cry.

You don’t think you have been programmed to be able to do that.

You suddenly feel a ringing in your head. Your vision is obscured by… various images.

» Make some other expression of great grief and sadness.
» Remove hat and place it over our chest. Stare down at our feet and mourn the death of the great oculoid.

You draw an expression of your great grief and sadness, then hold your hat to your chest in mourning.

Righto, time to get a move on. Lieutenant Skree! To the spaceship we go!

» Make a mad dash towards the orb thing, prepare yourself for badass combat.

You hurry off to the spaceship access room, sword at the ready. Nobody here. Hm. Perhaps inside.

You enter the spaceship sword first, nerves on edge. Skree follows placidly.

Huh. Nobody here. Then why did you get that weird signal-sort of thing—

“Ah, there you are. Hello, robot.”

good grief somebody is watching you

» Embrace the moment.

You do your best to act casual, opting to bluff that none of this is unusual to you. You casually pick up Skree and give him a rub. You greet the voice with a hello.

“Interesting. Yes, you’re definitely the one I’ve been looking for.”

You are a little bit freaked out by that but you try to stay relaxed. You ask what the voice wants with you.

“You will come to the dock directly.”

The display reverts back to static. You feel oddly compelled to follow the command.

There is only one place that ‘the dock’ could be. You approach the volcanic cavern nervously. Skree does not want to come in; it’s too hot inside.

You step inside, sword drawn. At the far end of the dock is a cylinder sticking out of the magma, with an open hatch.

Gentleman is here.

» We should walk slowly into a good position.. parallel to his own next to the lava, carefully.
» Also, calibrate yourself for self-defense.
» Tell Gentleman the hours since we last saw him have not been kind to him.

Whether you wanted to be seen or not, it’s too late. He was clearly waiting for you. No chance of hiding. You instead approach, keeping your distance and your sword still drawn, and comment that he’s looked better. He glowers… as best you can tell.

» Tell him that the oculoid has been dealt with as per protocol.
» Tell him that another robot has returned us to full functionality.

You inform him that you’ve “taken care of” your oculoid companion – good thing Skree’s not here to hear that – and that another robot fixed you up. He does not seem to care about Skree, but seems to take interest at the mention of another robot.

» Ask what he wants.
» Request progress report on Gentleman’s repairs.
» Demand to know why you were called here, and what that cylinder leads to.

You ask him why he called you here, where that tube goes, and what he wants.

He laughs, finally speaking. “Not my problem what you know. Get in there already. It’s not polite to keep a lady waiting.” His new claw clangs a bit as he sneers.

» Protest verbally against being ordered around by Gentleman.

You tell him he’s not your boss. He chuckles, and directs you past him to the dock.

» Keep a low stance.

You approach the hatch carefully, making sure Gentleman doesn’t knock you in. The effort is for waste. He does not follow you; in fact, he doesn’t even turn to watch you go.

» Enter hatch.

You descend the hatch and find yourself in a strange control room. Various rows of buttons line panels in front of a glass screen keeping back searing magma. Various tubes and equipment are on the walls, including another powered-down robot in another docking station. Several memory chips and other parts appear to be on the nearby desk as well. There is a small cot in the corner with a blanket, and near it, some kind of fluctuating matter-thing suspended in an important-looking glass mechanism. You old pal Scruffles is here too! And…

“Took your time. Not very prompt, are you?” Dr. Feringus laughs. “How unusual…. and interesting. Not a problem, of course. Your… unique qualities are why I’ve called you in the first place.”

» Say in the most calm and content way possible, “Good morning Feringus.”

You wish Dr. Feringus good morning.

“Morning, evening… between living in a cave and sleeping under an endless sun, I can hardly remember the difference any more. Nevertheless, welcome. I’m aware your memory is damaged. I imagine you’ve had an interesting experience making your way here.”

She turns. “That hat. I recognize that hat. It was one of Les’.”

» Greet Scruffles!

Before you can respond, Scruffles pounces on you! Awwwww you missed the furry fella.

Off, Rusty. You know better than that.”

The dog sits down again, content.

“I see you two have already met, at least. You must have been wandering the facility for longer than I’d figured.”

» Doff your hat and ask how badly you’ve messed things up.

You brush yourself off and remove your hat, nervously asking if you’ve made a mess of things.

“Nonsense,” she says. “You’ve done quite admirably, in fact– for a robot.” A pause. “My, you look so nervous! You don’t have to be afraid here; this is a safe place.”

She clicks on the lights. “Here, I’ve turned the lights back on. I imagine that dim lighting wasn’t making you feel any more comfortable.”

» Inquire if we’ll be allowed to keep any of the free will we seem to have acquired.

You ask if your personality and free will are going to be wiped like Gentleman said.

“Who? Oh, that other robot. Yes, he’s an interesting case as well… Managed to find me all on his own, actually. I must say, it’s very handy to finally have an assistant again, especially as I haven’t been able to get this useless shell working,” she says, indicating the robot in the station.

“No, I’ve no intention of rebooting your personality logic board. You’ve developed a rather interesting persona on your own. I’ve informed your robot compatriot that you are to be left alone as well. You’ve managed to accomplish something I’d never expected a…”

She trails off and walks away to the windows. “Hm. In any case, you’ve proven yourself suitably unique.”

» Inquire about the monstrous torture performed on the oculoids.
» Bring up the fact the the oculoids are as sentient as either her and us.

You start to ask her about the brutal treatment of the large oculoids, comparing their sentience to your own, but are cut off.

“Sentient? You? Oh, you are cute, aren’t you.

“No, your perceived sentience is nothing more than an illusion created by your programming. An effective illusion, I’ll admit, but nothing further. As for the creatures…”

She trails off and stares past you.

“No. There is nothing to discuss about this. I conducted their standardized sentience tests myself, several times. The results never differed. They did not once react to any stimuli we imposed in any non-instinctive way. They are animals, simply as that.”

Before you can pursue more answers, you are stopped. “This line of questioning will end and not be brought up again.” You suddenly feel incapable of asking further, despite wanting to.

» Inquire about a lot of things.

“My, you’re a curious one! I have to keep reminding myself that your memory has been wiped.” She chuckles softly under her breath. “I have a question for you, Mr. Robot. Do you think you could do me a favour?”

You feel yourself nod without ever thinking about it. It is very disconcerting.

“Good. This is a key to the mines. I assume by now you know where that is. Now, there are some chemicals down there, in a small storage unit, that I will believe will assist you. Your only task for right now is to continue your exploration of what’s left of the facility. There is little left that I can do from here, and my assistant… isn’t inquisitive enough, we’ll say, to be a suitable candidate. Your discoveries may be the key to all this.

“I will contact you again when a sufficient amount of time has passed. Until then, you are on your own. In the meantime, is there anything I can assist you with? Perhaps you have something in need of reparations.”

You open up your bag. There’s a lot of broken crap in here, to be honest.

» Inform her about the cave in that has blocked off the mines.

You tell her that a cave-in has blocked off the passageway between the rec room and the room next to it.

“…Oh, good grief. That bloody trap must have finally gone off after all this time. Well, don’t worry too much about it. The whole place is in already shambles now. If it’s really a problem you can try mixing an explosive gel in the lab and blasting your way through. I’m sure I left the recipe around there somewhere.”

» Ask in a delightfully childlike manner if she can repair the broken bird that’s been rotting in our backpack for a while now.

You ask if she can fix the bird.

“Is that… good grief. Twilly didn’t make it either, then. Well, nothing I can do about that. I’m a scientist, not a witch doctor.”

» Ask for the password to turn off the laser beams.

“The laser beams… oh, in the lab? I… hm. I can’t seem to remember anymore. Ironic, really. We installed passwords related to things around us to prevent us from forgetting them. Alas. In any case, so long as the spaceship’s navigation console is still working you ought to be able to get our distance from Earth from there.”

You inform her that the navigation whatsit has gone dark.

“Oh? Damn. Hopefully it hasn’t run out of back-up power, we did our best not to… Well, doublecheck that none of the remote power rods got loose, sometimes that’s the issue. If that’s not it, come back and I’ll give you something else to power it up.”

» Tell her that her sentience is nothing more than an illusion created by her biological programming!
» Recount the giant oculoid’s request.

You try and start a discussion with her about the nature of sentience and the treatment of the oculoids but are unable to. That line of discussion is no longer permitted.

» Ask her to repair the music box.

You ask her to repair the music box. She stares at it quietly.

“I remember that,” she says, finally. “Yes. I’ll fix that for you. Leave it with me and I’ll have it repaired for you the next time we meet.”

She takes the broken music box and walks away. “Go down and get the chemicals from the mines presently. I will contact you when I am ready. That is all.”

You find yourself compelled to climb up and out of the sub before you can do anything else!

You head down the dock. Gentleman is gone. Not your problem right now. You have an order to carry out.

You reach the Rec Room and unlock the chained trap door. Hot air rises from the tunnel. Skree has followed you back but again finds it too hot to continue. He waits here.

You descend the long tunnel. The walls are shoddily dug, interspersed with wooden supports crossing along the sides and ceiling of the passage. It does not seem to be going anywhere in particular. You pass the skeleton of a third giant oculoid on your way, but do not stop.

Finally you arrive in a large, magma-filled cavern, much like the one you were in minutes ago. This one, however, has strange trees growing out of it, winding up and clustered around each other. Some shovels are scattered around here, and a suprisingly plain cooler-looking box is at the far side of the cavern.

You feel the obligation of your orders subside as you enter the expanse.

» Wield the shovel!

You pick up a shovel. Kind of familiar. You figure at some point you must have used these a lot, not that you can remember now.

» If the trees are close enough, lop off a chunk of it using one of the shovels and put that into our pack.

It’s a little far to reach.

» Open cooler.

You find a whole bunch of things! You stuff them all in your nearly-full inventory.

All right, so new junk you’ve picked up include: A small round bottle labelled ‘caern dew,’ a larger, opening-less cylindrical thing labelled ‘M,’ a very small beaker with almost nothing in it labelled ‘X-UNREF.’ and another video cassette tape. You figure you better make a pit stop in the lab later to figure out what all this is/does.

» Where the ship is, try to reach into that rat hole next to the missing thing.

You make your way back up through the mines, reuniting with Skree, then head to the spaceship access room and reach your hand in. Nothing over there but rock.

» Try to get Skree to realize what you want, and see if he could squeeze in.

You imply to Skree that he should crawl through and he does so. The little fella is surprisingly maneuverable.

You find him sitting over here.

» Mention these new developments to Patch.

All right, you’ve done a fair amount of investigating. Time for a check-in with Pa …tch.

Patch is not here. The notes you gave him are scattered everywhere.

» Examine the notes for new additions.

Nope, nothing. Probably was a bad idea to make the armless guy’s job to work with paper.

» Examine the scratch-marks on the broken door.

Yup. Those are slashes, all right. Pretty deep ones too. You also notice that the locks in the top of the doorway also appear to still be protruding.

» Mix that recipe in the lab. We do have all the ingredients, right?

You take the note from the chem lab and underline stuff related to the couple of chemical recipes listed. You also lay out what you have so far: X-UNREF, M, and CAERN DEW. According to the Chem Map on the console, you also have a (dry) hose hooked up to the main input which is supposed to contain CHEMXFEED, and a beaker of FULGMIX in the ‘catalyst’ input. You ponder what to do with this information.

mobile laboratory in hopes of collecting more.

Extensive testing of the chemical extract proves that it does indeed meet the conditions of a Chemical X. However the small amounts in which we are capable of producing it are… laughable. Additionally, the amount of fulgurite and raw nutrient fluid we must burn up to produce the most insubstantial amount of pure Chemical X is excessive to the point of hyperbole. Our work here is not yet done. When we have refined a process with which we can manufacture our own Chemical X we can return; until then we will not stop.

Our experimentation has produced several interesting results. By inputting pure Chemical X into the intake and mixing it with caern dew, a volatile, highly unstable explosive gel is created. Another product of our testing we are calling the solvent, which has been able to purify the acidic ‘nutrient’ waste that until now we had been simply dumping; this has allowed us to extract more raw Chemical X for fortifying with the fulgurite mixture.

One mixture, which we are dubbing the ‘mutagen,’ has proven not to be an inoculant at all. In fact, it has nearly the opposite effect – it would be better described as an ‘oculant.’ Humourously ironic. Perhaps this is the solution we have been

» Flip the lever that closes the original door (the locked one from the start) then take that rod out of it.

You pull the locker lever that makes the first door go up and down, but can’t get to the other side while it’s down.

» Get into UFO-thingie and watch the tape

You return to the spaceship and plug in the new cassette tape.

The screen flickers to life.

Les is setting up the piano from Patch’s hideout.

“—believe this actually came in handy? I mean, I mostly just brought it because I figured I’d get some good practice time out here.”

“As if. It took you half a year to even take out the thing.” A giggle.

“Not the point! Not the point!”

“Pres, I had to remind you we still had it in the first place!”

“Let it be officially noted on the record that it was the brilliant mind of one Preston A. Les that had the bright idea to bring his piano in order—”

“Well I’m going to make a note above that saying that it was one Preston Les who responded ‘My what?’ when informed that the piano was still in the ship!” She tries unsuccessfully not to laugh.

“Betrayal at the hands of my own subordinate! The Les-Feringus expedition is undone!” They are both laughing now.

“Les-Feringus? I believe the official title was ‘Feringus-Les,’ you walking ego. And I had better not catch you calling me ‘subordinate’ again. I’m your partner.”

A smile. “’Course ya are, Cla—”

“—eems the best place we’ve got. I mean, we haven’t found water elsewhere yet. It’s right near the base, but still going to get a lot of sun.”

“Anywhere we put this thing is going to get a lot of sun. Honestly, does it ever get dark here? Hell, or cold? I’m sweating like a leaky faucet here.”

“Come on, we spend most of the time in the caves. This is bearable.”

“Sure, but how… how is this planet not cooked? It’s so close to the damn sun!”

“Right, yet it was still showing a chilled, possibly habitable reading from the scans outside orbit. So something’s keeping it cool despite its proximity, and that’s one of the tell-tale signs. It’s here, Les, it has to be.”

“I’m not arguing that! I’m roasting!”

“Here, I’ll get the bot to plant it already and we’ll head ba—”

Several robots with shovels are standing around the room you woke up in. Les’ voice is speaking.

“—on’t touch anything, you buncha bolts… all right—oh, hell, it’s already running—okay, this is, ah, a room we dug into. There’s… uh, some kind of weird idol with a big head with a line through it, or something, and it’s sitting on this giant slab of rock. There’s… okay, the wall on the far side of the room has drawings on it, or something like that, and there’s what looks like a lightning bolt, a drop of water… some kind of sun? And that head thing aga—oh, it’s an eye! A big singular eye with some kind of line through the pupil. All right. And… below each of the markings on the wall, except the eye, are three smaller circles—medallions?—with the respective marking on them too. I guess we’re going to take a look at the medallion things, and… uh, maybe move this slab? So that’s our next step. …End log, I guess.”

“—ium sounds dumb. ‘Feringium’ is way better. There’s number four, too, I’ll shut them down for the night.”

“‘Feringium’ is terrible! Lesium is an undeniable improvement.”

“But they’re not going to say ‘less-ium,’ they’ll say it ‘leese-ium,’ and you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to correct people.”

“Hey, if that’s the price I have to pay to have the discovery of the millenium named after me, I think I can—”

An oculoid sits on the table, a few mouth-appendages cut off from its face. A needle is beside it. It appears to be a bit loopy; perhaps tranquilized.

“—must be tied to the creatures, though. They only started appearing a little while around when we found that chamber. And you can’t say the eye and idol don’t look just like the creatures’.”

“But what about—what about the weather stuff, though? I mean, the weather’s unusually active on this planet, and the creatures seem to worship it, but they don’t have the intellectual capacity nor the physical ability as far as we can tell to craft something like it or the dolmen. And there’s not a chance the creatures exist in quantities high enough to generate the readings we took. I just don’t know what else we can do.”

“So, what, so we should give up? Call it a day? I didn’t spend the last year of my life to slouch back with my tail between my legs. ‘We got really close, but then we came back’ – that’ll be the quote in the byline. And then a million other teams will come back here and keep searching and they’ll find it and some useless superfluous management schlub will get to name it and everyone will say ‘boy wasn’t it lucky that Ray Woodward happened to be there thank goodness for him and his Woodwardium and— No. I’m not okay with that.”

“But ultimately, wouldn’t that be a good thing in the long run? I mean, obviously not for our careers specifically, but to humanity as a whole—”

“That’s not good enough! We’ve worked too hard for this already. I’ve worked too hard for this.”


I am not going back with nothing.”

Doctor Feringus. Relax. We’ll keep going, all right? Let’s… let’s take another look at what we’ve observed so far.”

“…All right. All right. Okay. I’m okay. Let’s do that.”

There are some deep, defusing breaths.

“So…” Les begins. “First off is the strange temperature. I mean, it’s hot, but… not nearly as hot as it should be with the proximity to the sun.”

“And our readings showed the planet’s overall temperature to be much cooler on average than we’ve found anywhere here.”

“Right. So we know that somehow some unknown process keeps this planet cool. Second is the weather. Rain, thunderclouds, and lightning brew up out of nowhere. Furthermore, certain sound vibrations – combinations of specific notes in a row repeating endlessly – can trigger these weather reactions.”

“So there’s something in the air that reacts to the vibrations.”

“Not necessarily – the sudden, inclement weather could be caused by changes in temperature as well. But either is a possibility.”

“Wish we’d brought a meteorologist.”

“Want to go back and get one?” Les slyly comments.


“Not in a joking mood, huh.”


“Well… okay, third thing: the creatures. We can’t figure out where they came from, or who built all this runic stuff related to them.”

“Honestly, I think that’s all tangential.”

“We did find our first traces of Chemical X in one of these things, though.”

“They themselves are important. Their fancy ancient culture I couldn’t care less about.”

“We do have an amount of the chemical, though. And we can increase that in time.”

“Over years, maybe. And even then we’d only have enough to power maybe ten ships. No, we need to find the real source. There’s got to be something we’re missing.”

“Well, we’ve outlined a possibly relationship between the temperature, the weather, and music vibrations. We’ve noticed a correlation between the creatures and the weather, and presumably music vibrations as well. So our next step is to identify a cor—”

“—ere, and when they try and take it, the ceiling will rumble a bit. So it’ll scare them off, and we’ll know more have been trying to get in.”

“The ceiling will rumble? Les, how did you hook this up? Do you really think it’s safe to shake a cave?”

“Relax, they’re instinctive creatures. Animalistic. They’ll back off before anything happens, every time.”

“Seems a bit of a crude system. What if we want to take it out?”

“It’s hooked up through the computer, so there’s no—”

“Whatever. I don’t really care how you entertain yourself in yo … are time, so … as you don’t…”

The audio is beginning to cut out. Looks like the last of the power is beginning to fade.

Several oculoids are… what…?

“….eat test … mber se…” you hear. Les’ voice.

There is a very long period of static, penetrated only occasionally by the oculoids’ cries.

The audio has now completely reverted to static. On the screen, Feringus drops some oculoids into the incinerator. She appears unhappy.

You are not sure exactly what is going on here.

Feringus stands between the three giant oculoids, holding a whip.


With that, the screen goes dead.

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Chapter 7: Mapping Things Out

» Examine the broken smaller monitor, see if you can find whatever was thrown through it.

You reach your hand in and feel around. Aside from a lot of wiring, there is an object. Taking it out you find it is a very small key to what is presumably a very small lock.

» Examine the swirly thing in the middle of the sphere

You take hold of the glowly swirly sphere of light in the center of the floor. You arms appear to disappear into it, fading into its light. Surprisingly, it feels solid… mostly. You tighten your grip.

The room begins to dim as light swirls spew from the sphere.

It appears to be forming…

A universe?

It expands rapidly…

…until you have zoomed in on a small star system.

The holographic projection stops changing. An indicator appears over one of the planets.

» Try a bunch of things, like moving our hands towards the planet, walking towards the planet, moving our heads towards the planet, etc until it zooms in more.

It seems like tightening or loosening your grip causes the view to zoom in or out while pushing the sphere in one direction moves the indicator that way. Easy enough to work. Although it doesn’t seem like you can zoom in any further than you began. Zooming out a bit, there doesn’t seem to be other nearby star systems.

» Zoom into the planet with rings around it. Somehow.

You move the indicator to the planet with rings. The entire display revolves to keep the indicator in front of you. Nothing else happens.

» Select the earth-like planet and release the orb. If that does nothing, then try spinning it.

You move the indicator and release the sphere. The display fades. There appears to be no way to ‘select’ a planet, or perhaps whatever this is isn’t working properly.

You take hold of the sphere again and spin it. The display spins with it. This sphere-interface is fairly intuitive to navigate with, but you’re not really having any success at selecting anything, or learning any info about what you’re targeting, or… anything like that, really.

» Keeping hold of the sphere, try to pull it apart outwards without breaking it. If it expands, then turn it to aim at the ringed planet.

You begin to try and expand the view, but the holographic display begins to glitch up.

The sphere turns dark. The stand resumes shooting static to and from it.

The, uh… the main monitor appears to have reset to the first frame of the cassette. The bots displayed are… looking at you. It’s a bit unsettling.

» See if they follow you.

You move to the side. Their eyes don’t follow you. It’s just a monitor showing an image, not…

You are still pretty creeped out by it nonetheless.

» Start pushing every button you see.

Nothing seems to work. Though from what you can tell, that doesn’t appear to be due to loss of physical functionality.

» Wait for the sphere to begin working again. Once it does…

It doesn’t.

You are not really very comfortable waiting around in here with the, uh… screen. Time to go.

Skree is quite pleased as you descend the ramp. Evidently he was rather bored sitting in one spot that whole time.

» Push the lever in the locker back up (down?) and check the door to the generator again

Yup, it’s up again.

» Place the activated sun medallion into its slot, then try to remove all medallions from their slots.

It fits in neatly. They don’t stick, either; you try taking both out and then replace them.

» Go to the sewer room and check in there.

The gunk hasn’t cleared or lowered at all. The smell hasn’t improved, either.

» Look through the neck of the headless robot, we may learn something.

There’s a whole bunch of wires in the way. Might as well give them a yank.

Pulling the wires partially aside, you can see some machinery. Mostly just mechanical stuff. All the important logic programming and whatnot must be stored in the head.

» Gather up scrap metal from the room below the ruined kitchen.
» Pick up the front part of the broken claw gun to use as tongs.
» Heat the metal with the flames from the doorway in the computer room.

With access to the generator room’s fire once again enabled, you set to work. The blade is pieced together from the frame of the analyzer; the inside of the oven provides the hilt, with stovetop wiring wrapped around it for a better grip. You know how you want all this scrap to end up looking in the end. All you have to do is get it there.

» Make a sword.

You have forged STOVEBRAND.

It looks… surprisingly like a useable sword. You are a bit amazed that this worked at all, and that you didn’t end up with just a silly hunk of club-shaped junk. Though with the materials you used it’s rather unlikely it’ll be very strong.

» Put Skree on shoulder and hold sword up looking as Swashbuckling as possible. Argh.

Skree seems to have wandered off when you were messing around with the fire mechanism.

» Go back on top of the building (near the floating rocks) and try to see if we can wall slide down it’s relatively graduated surface.

Yeah, that’s not really ‘relatively graduated’ so much as ‘a sheer face.’ You’re not getting down there.

» Check out the panel above the switch in the sewer room.

As you pass back through the living room, you see that Skree is hanging out with a bunch of other oculoids.

They flee when they notice your presence.

You pass and re-enter the sewage room; Skree staying behind (presumably to wait for his friends to come back?) Looks like the wires you installed are still holding up.

» Test Stovebrand’s “sharpness” by trying to cut one of the dead giant oculoid’s tentacles into separate pieces.

While Skree’s still upstairs, you give one of the tentacles a good slashing. It shreds right apart. Maybe this thing is pretty sharp after all!

» Is the sword sharp enough to harm ourselves? We should test it on the already dead robot body.

With a bit of hesitation, you prepare to bisect the headless robot.

WHANG! Apparently it’s not that sharp. Or you are made out of some pretty tough stuff.

All right, enough mucking around. You’ve got a weapon, insufficient as it may or may not be. Time to make some progress. You’ve got a key – there has to be a lock around somewhere.

» The acidic footprints just disappeared behind some pipes. Trying to follow them might be a good idea. Check for secret passages and stuff.

No secret passages here – they seem to simply fade out behind the pipes. You imagine Gentleman was simply hiding just out of your peripheral vision while you were focused elsewhere.

» Check the lockers for locks.

The key doesn’t work on the still-locked sun locker, but it does open the raindrop locker.

You find a clear laminate sheet inside. It has writing randomly scribbled all over it. You’re not sure what to make of it, though it does look familiar.

» We got a couple of maps on us, right? Try overlaying it with one of them.

You overlay the laminate sheet on the 4F map you obtained from another locker. It seems to line up pretty well.

» The lockers have the code! Punch in: Lighting, Eye, Cloud, Sun, Rain, Cloud.

You punch the combination into the pad and hit Enter. The door slides open.

This room is not very tall, but rather long. There is a table with all sorts of fancy chemical mixing stuff on it, though it is all empty save for a white-ish mixture in one beaker. There is some kind of hose hanging down loosely from the ceiling that runs into the other side of the wall, as well as several other random wires hanging across sections of the ceiling. Burners under the chemistry set run under the table and then into the floor.

Moving further into the room, you see a hall extend out to your left, with lasers blocking access. A note is on the table as well. There is another monitor built into the wall, a circular pattern on the floor, and… several oculoids? These guys are starting to pop up just about everywhere.

The oculoids flee up into a hole in the ceiling above the circular thing as soon as they see you. Not really that surprising.

» First, type ACCESS CODES into the command prompt and hit enter.

Damn. It seems to want access codes instead of freely giving them. The format is ‘PASS###’ – apparently each code requires three numbers.


» go back and type CHEM MAP.

A horribly shitty line map appears. Apparently ‘FULGMIX’ is currently placed in the CATALYST slot, and nothing is hooked up to the INPUT. BURNERS is set to OFF.

» Obtain and read the piece of paper on the table.

mobile laboratory in hopes of collecting more.

Extensive testing of the chemical extract proves that it does indeed meet the conditions of a Chemical X. However the small amounts in which we are capable of producing it are… laughable. Additionally, the amount of fulgurite and raw nutrient fluid we must burn up to produce the most insubstantial amount of pure Chemical X is excessive to the point of hyperbole. Our work here is not yet done. When we have refined a process with which we can manufacture our own Chemical X we can return; until then we will not stop.

Our experimentation has produced several interesting results. By inputting pure Chemical X into the intake and mixing it with caern dew, a volatile, highly unstable explosive gel is created. Another product of our testing we are calling the solvent, which has been able to purify the acidic ‘nutrient’ waste that until now we had been simply dumping; this has allowed us to extract more raw Chemical X for fortifying with the fulgurite mixture.

One mixture, which we are dubbing the ‘mutagen,’ has proven not to be an inoculant at all. In fact, it has nearly the opposite effect – it would be better described as an ‘oculant.’ Humourously ironic. Perhaps this is the solution we have been

It starts and ends pretty abruptly. Must just be a loose sheet from the middle of a journal entry or something.

» Stand over the circular thing and look up to where the oculoids went.

At the end of the hall, the ceiling just shoots upwards. You can’t see very far up, but the oculoids definitely went up there.

» Check if that circular thing isn’t a grate of some kind.

Nope. It appears to be a bunch of very thin gaps in the ground.

» Is that a loosely hanging pipe I see next to what I think is the input pipe? Does the display change if we hook it up?

You hook up the hose to the input pipe.

The display changes to CHEMXFEED, though nothing comes from the hose.

» I think that the restraint password is 613, not sure though.

You type in RESTRAINT PASS613. Nope, not there yet.

» Take some useless thing (a giant oculoid tentacle perhaps) and throw it in front of the lasers.

You toss one of the oculoid tentacles into the lasers.

It flash-melts.

» The mirror that shattered from the oculoid must have left some glass on the floor. Take one piece, and use it to reflect the lasers back at the “laser fence”.

You take one of the bigger pieces of glass and hold it in front of the lasers. Maybe you can reflect the bea–

It melts too. Eep.

» Check on Skree.

The little guy is taking a nap on the carpet. Aww.

» check on hat-thief.

The other robot is awake! Wow you might actually get to interact for once!

» Greet him in a nice and polite way and generally try to befriend him.
» I think finding the magic numbers to feed to the lab computer would be a primary goal here. So, distance from “home”, total number of bots, time we’ve been here.
» Actually, just get back and lock the door right now. I don’t want to be interrupted in the middle of an exposition dump.
» I think asking about robot physiology and access panels and things like that would be AN ENTIRELY UNDERSTANDABLE COURSE OF ACTION.
» Also ask if he knows anything about chemistry, or any of the ingredients listed.
» And give him your stack of notes and journals and whatnot.
» Oh, and ask about that long poster on the wall that we turned into a hat.
» Tell him that the gentleman has gone mad, and we need to know as much about our own body as possible, especially weaknesses.

Geez, what a load of questions! Better prepare for some serious exposition.

After a moment of surprise, you tell him hello. He says hi. You say you would introduce yourself, but don’t have a name. He says that’s okay, none of us really do.

You are overwhelmed with questions and start with the basics. You ask who ‘us’ are. He is surprised you do not know. You explain that your memory chip is broken, and that you cannot remember anything. He knows. He checked it the first time he found you passed out. You ask if he wouldn’t mind answering some questions you have been pondering for a while, but first you are going to head downstairs and lock the door just in case. He says sure, and waits.

You return, Skree with you, and begin getting some long-awaited answers.

You ask first about what this place is, and what you are. He says that you are an AuxBot – an ‘auxiliary robot’ designed to perform physical labour. You are one of a pallet of eight bots brought with a research team who arrived on this planet a long time ago, and were purposed to dig out and set up a small research facility. The nature of the scientists’ expedition he is not sure about. The scientists did not talk to us much, he says. Most of what he knows about the area is observational. He explains that as the scientists did not want to engage the bots’ personality programming, they strictly enforced a policy of all bots returning to their recharging units at the end of the day and shutting down, with a short term memory wipe. Aside from that general information which was always left with him, he does not remember many specifics of working here.

The last time he went online was strange, he says. Normally when he was activated at least one other auxbot was activated with him to go to work for the day. This time, however, he turned on alone, and without Dr. Les around to give instructions as usual. He explains that there is a security protocol that is hardwired into auxbots where if one unexpectedly stops working, the control pallet will automatically activate another. He assumes this is why he was awakened. He explains that generally in these situations, a human would be around to give instructions, but in his exploration of the facility, he found only Dr. Les’ corpse, and no sign of Dr. Feringus. As three of the eight robots in the pallet were gone at the time of his activation, he assumed he would find at least one of them around, but only came across the broken, unuseable remains of one, which he later gave a make-shift funeral off the mountainside. In addition, the facility was filled with the little monsters similar to the one you are carrying around, as well as… bigger ones. Having no human to take orders from, he opted to hide out in this part of the facility and preserve himself until he could get a better lead on where Dr. Feringus might be.

After some time had passed, he came across another robot. Unlike himself, this one had been forming a personality in its time online, and was rather… unsettling, he says. This robot was persuing the same general goal of finding Dr. Feringus, but did not seem interested in his help, nor did it care what had happened. He says that he was actually quite relieved when it left.

A fair time later he came across you, passed out on the floor. You lost power, he explains; auxbots aren’t meant to run much longer than a day or two without being recharged. He brought you back to his little safe area, discovered your stuff, and figured that while you were recharging he would try and actually make some progress towards finding Dr. Feringus.

He coughs a bit, somewhat embarrassed, and apologizes about taking your hat. He had intended to return it. You somewhat hesitantly accept his apology. You both agree that it really is a very nice hat. He thinks that it probably originally belonged to Dr. Les. You concur, explaining that you found a bunch of costume accessory type stuff in his room. Your new friend seems quite fixated on this piece of information.

You ask about auxbot physiology. You are aware that you all have a head panel where the memory chip goes, and you are pretty sure you saw a chest panel once, but not really any more than that. He says that that’s pretty much everything – there are some very small ports for recharging wires to go at most joints, but the model is not really designed for hands-on maintenance, only for reprogramming via computers. When there is a serious physical problem with an auxbot it is supposed to be taken back to the manufacturer and exchanged rather than toyed around by the owner; all that really accomplishes is messing up the inner workings and motor functions. He says both panels are meant to be imperceptible when not opened. The head panel simply needs to be pressed against to reveal itself, while the chest panel needs to be hit a few times to make sure it doesn’t accidentally open during physical labour. He managed to reactivate you when you passed out the second time by giving your inner parts an electrical jump-start, though he was not sure if it would work at the time.

You ask if the model has any notable weaknesses. He is a bit confused by this question, but says no, not really. The head is rather weak but as the entire model is covered by an extremely durable frame, it’s not really possible to get to it. He asks why exactly you wanted to know that, a bit unsettled. You tell him that another robot, which you have been calling Gentleman, has been harassing you and fighting with you, and that if you end up encountering him again you are really going to need an edge since he kicked your ass so handily last time. You try not to mention that technically you started the fight. He says that it is very odd that it has become aggressive, as auxbots are not normally supposed to be combative, though there is a little bit of combat programming that is intended to be used for emergency self-preservation. He is not comfortable with the idea of a violent robot and agrees that it is probably a good idea to consider it an enemy.

You ask about the poster he had put up on the wall here, and if it had been about the robots. He says yes; the happy face was himself, the unhappy face was the robot he encountered, the exclamation mark was you before he had a chance to judge you, and the X was the destroyed robot he found. You say that you found another destroyed robot, so there are still three unaccounted for.

You ask if he knows anything about the chemistry set-up in the lab downstairs. He shrugs.

You tell him that you are trying to make progress opening up more of the facility, and if he knows how far this planet is from Earth, how many years they’ve been here, and if Les and Feringus were the only two humans here. He says he is not sure how far they are, or how long it’s been, but there were just the two humans.

You say that that is about all you had to ask him. He says that’s quite all right and if you wouldn’t mind answering a few of his own. He asks why there is a creature with a hat following you around, how many robots were still in the pallet when you woke up, and if you have found any clues as to Dr. Feringus’ whereabouts. He is quite concerned for the doctor’s safety and would like to work with you to find her and make sure she is okay.

» Explain about Skree and oculoids in general.

You tell him that despite their appearance, the oculoids are actually quite friendly and tame, or at the very least, this one is. The big ones appear to be a different matter. You mention that you got in a fight with Gentleman over his attempts to kill Skree. You are not really sure why there is a ‘dispatch’ order in place concerning oculoids, but you’ve seen no reason to fear or worry about the little ones.

The other robot is somewhat confused by this. He does not have any instructions in place to dispatch the creatures.

» Let him know that Gentleman should have a monocle and most of his body melted off, though that might have been fixed.

You explain that Gentleman had a lot of his frame melted off, and though he left to get repairs, he will certainly still have his moustache and monocle on him at all times.

» Ask if he things the personality we’ve started to developed is likely to be deleted, we’re getting rather attached to it…

You also mention that Gentleman intends on… ‘fixing’ you, which apparently requires resetting your personality. He says that if you really needed to undergo serious maintenance, then yes, your personality logic board will be reset in the process and you will be reactivated with a blank slate. But to him you seem to be operating about as well as can be expected under the circumstances.

» We can’t remember the pallet.
» Tell him that we woke up in the room with the rockslide and the weird oculoid runes, and ask him where the pallet is.

You tell him that the first thing you can remember is waking up in the room with all the rubble and the idol, down the smithy’s ladder. He knows what room you are talking about but does not remember any rubble being there. He says the pallet is just on the other side of the rubble; shame that you can’t tell him how many robots are left there.

» We haven’t seen any signs of the doctor, though one of the broken bots had a lab coat.
» Offer to help find the doctor.

You mention that one of the bots you found had one of Les’ labcoats, and you found one of Feringus’ in her room, but haven’t seen any sight of her. You agree to find this doctor, though. She is your only real owner now, so you have something of a responsibility! Plus if she is okay you can probably have her sort out all this nonsense.

» Ask him what kind of hat he wants to wear.

You notice him staring at your hat and ask him if he would like something to wear. He would quite like that!

You take a look in your inventory. Well, let’s see, there’s, uh…

Your armless roboty friend is now know as Patch. He seems extremely pleased to have an accessory to call his own.

» Give him your stack of notes and journals and whatnot.
» For now, I think he should hole up in the incinerator room, keeping the door locked. Agree on a secret signal knock.

You decide to leave your collected notes here for him to read over, and tell him you had better get a move on while Gentleman’s repairing himself. You tell him to follow you down and lock the incinerator door behind you, and that you will call for him by name to signal when you are coming back. He agrees.

» the password for Restraint should be about 183, so try PASS183.

You head back down to the lab and try 183 out. Nope, that’s not it either. But from your conversation with Patch you ought to be able to think this one out now.

» Try PASS182 and PASS 282 for STORAGE

You try both. 282 works! The circular thingy rises up and forms a somewhat steep circular staircase up the shaft where the oculoids fled up to. Up we go!

oh hell

At the back of this rather deep room is another giant oculoid. There are several regular ones crowded around it.

Skree runs off to join them. You are afraid to call out to him.

» Approach the large oculoid slowly, to gauge it’s reaction, if any.
» Think the most non-violent, friendly thoughts you possibly can.

You begin to slowly move towards the back of the room, trying to stay as friendly as you can, hoping it hasn’t noticed you–


It howls a very pained roar. You immediately back off.

» Is that our whip down to the right, or oculoid tentacles??

Is… is that… could it be…?


» Look under the various rubble in the room.

Gah! You can’t move any of this metal; it’s ridiculously heavy.

» Communicate with smaller occuloids, send messages of ‘friend’ and ‘help’ and try to gauge their feelings for the giant one.

Unfortunately, you can’t get close enough to pick one up.

» Edge carefully along the (fourth) wall to see if you can climb down into the second hole with the ladder.

Yep, you’re far away enough not to bother the thing. You’ll deal with this later. Right now, there’s something else you’re looking forwards to.

If you remember the map right, this room ought to be the Rec Room on the other side of where you woke up, where Patch said the control pallet is! You descend the ladder quite quickly, anxious to find the last of your brothers. You are very curious to see how many are left–

Oh. Oh no.

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Chapter 6: New Perspectives

» Be the oculoid.

You are now the oculoid.

Up until a little while ago you did not have a name or sense of identity, but have since come to answer to the name Skree. Your mnemnem was knocked out after being attacked by a scary monster who is around here somewhere, and you are not very good with understanding complex concepts. You find it difficult to understand anything that is not heavily derived from or based on an emotional feeling.

You were feeling agitated a short while earlier, but are now feeling rather peaceful.

» Smack your tentacles against your robotic companion to try to wake him up.

You briefly aggress your mnemnem. Nope, that’s not going to wake it up. Better think of something else.

» Crawl onto the ceiling and fall on AG’s face until AG wakes up.

It doesn’t budge. Maybe it needs more than some smacking around to get up? You’re not much of a roboticist.

» Search for help!

You figure you are going to need help on this one. You wonder who is around to consult.

» Follow the mustachioed robot to wherever it went.

You were hiding when the monster was out! Which is good because you really don’t want to follow it.

» Consider taking ‘mnemnem’ to the place it took the damaged one.

You probably could not move mnemnem if you tried. Maybe you will try to find the smaller monster!

mnemnem took the smaller monster into this room. This room is a bad place. You are scared.

» Just go visit the other robot. Mnemnem is more important than the scary room!
» Jeez, man up Skree, the room’s empty, just go to the other robot. Unless you want Mnemnem to die.

All right then. You will risk entering the bad room for the sake of mnemnem. You try and stick close to the wall as you head for the doorway—


Bad room! Bad room! You flee to through the doorway and find yourself…

…Outside!!! It is peaceful out right now. You hope it will stay that way.

This place seems okay.

!!! The little monster! What now?

» Poke the monster, see if there’s any reaction

You cautiously approach the little monster. You are always as cautious as you can be.

You tap it on the head a few times.

Waugh!!!!!! It moved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You flee to the ceiling.

The little monster shouts at you.

» Wait, and observe it. Does it seem hostile?

You watch it from the ceiling. It continues to shout at you, but not aggressively. It appears to be trying to get your attention.

» Fall on its head and commune emotions.

You risk getting closer to it, dropping on its head to try and communicate with it.

You send: help help mnemnem hurt sleep wake up help

You receive a whole lot of confusion as the little monster yells. It is a bit disorienting.

» Avoid doing anything that could be interpreted as hostile.

You stay very still and try not to screech at it. It eventually calms down a bit.

You send again: help help mnemnem hurt sleep wake up help

The monster tentatively sends back: mnemnem??????

» Tell him that he helped Mnemnem before and that he needs help again.

Unfortunately you are unaware of this fact! Maybe if you were a robot that could view the data on memory chips you would have a little more luck.

» Tell him Mnemnem looks like him.
» Emote: “Friend.”

You try to convey that mnemnem looks like it, sort of, and that it is a friend. The little monster seems to react to this!

He sends you some fuzzy images. They are a little confusing. What is this all about??

» Bend the broken leg back the right way.

You are fairly certain that it wants you to bend its leg to be straight. You grab hold and pull! The little monster is very loud.

Done! The leg shuffles around on its own a moment which you think is very exciting!!!!! It seems to be trying to stand up.

It stands! Now that it is standing up it is not actually all that little after all.

You follow it down through the bad room into the place where you left mnemnem.

It taps three times on mnemnem’s body.

A panel slides open! Whoooaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!

The monster suddenly falls over backwards and knocks over a chair. There is a loud ZZZZZZZZZZ crackle-y noise and flashing lights!

The monster goes to sleep.

mnemnem wakes up!!!!!!

You are now Adventure Guy.

You pick yourself up and take a look around. Skree is very excited to see you. Your hat is off and that broken robot is lying passed out in front of you (…with a fixed leg?). The last thing you remember was Gentleman pummeling you. Your chest feels a little breezy.

There is a whirrrr and a panel in your chest slides shut. Uh.

» First things first: retrieve hat.

You pop your hat back on your head. Good to see it didn’t get ‘borrowed’ again. Not that the broken dude had any arms to pick stuff up with anyhow. You wonder exactly what was going on here.

» Take Hat Thief back to the medical room, we still haven’t been able to talk to him.

You take this guy back to the medical room (again). It strikes you as rather silly that you’ve both helped each other out a few times now without ever talking. You don’t even know his name!

Interestingly, Skree follows you this time.

» Examine broken dude to see if he’s even repairable at all.

He looks… okay. For a guy missing two arms. And a dislocated head. Presumably he got up after recharging, so hopefully he’ll come back on eventually.

Speaking of his dislocated head… You decide that it’s high time this dude got his head put on the right way ‘round. If he can somehow fix his own broken leg, he can handle all this wiring getting shoved back in his frame.

There! Now he just needs some arms and he’s good as new.

» Switch the cables back to you for a few moments at the highest power you can take.

You pop one of the wires into your head briefly and feel the surge coming in. Ooh yeah! You’re feeling pretty recharged now.

» Play on the piano with Skree.

You play FACADE. Skree wraps himself up in his tentacles and goes to sleep. The little guy must be tuckered right out!

» Try forcing the panels in the cremation room open.

You give it your best, but they don’t open. As far as you can tell, they only open when something’s touching the handle. Probably so you don’t accidentally fall in.

» Shuffle through the exploded giant oculoid from before and retrieve the broken arm. Bring it back to the forge, melt it down, and forge a new robot arm. Remove wires from random stuff and install it into the arm, installing that into hat thief.

The remaining arm half does not appear to be around anywhere. Perhaps it is in splinters small enough that you can’t see it? Either way you are probably not capable of forging a complex robot arm.

» Check in the acid room for footprints burned in to the floor.

Yup. There’s some acidic footprints leading out of the side of the pit and disappearing behind some pipes. They stop after that, however.

» Use wires from the headless robot to fix the panel in there.

You grab some wires and kind of just jam them into place. You don’t have a soldering tool, but with some luck this will be enough for one or two uses of the machine. Looks all right. You admire your handiwork.

You give the switch a pull and sewage gunk stops flowing from the pipes. The basin is just as disgusting, though.

» Look through the music book for another relatively short song.

You waste some time flipping through all the many pages. Aside from FACADE, it’s full of useless pages-long ballads and shit.

» Teach Skree and get him to pull the handle while we look inside?

You head back to the piano room and wake the little guy up. C’mon, buddy, break’s over.

You take him down the ridge and point out the handle. He seems to get the idea.

With Skree hanging on to the handle, you take a look see. Looks like this is above the area behind the mirror all right.

» Pull that lever in the locker down.

You wonder why you never pulled it when you came across it first and yank that sucker down. There is some whirr-clunking, as expected. You see no changes in the immediate area, though.

» Enter following code: Lightning, Droplet, Sun, Cloud, Eye, Enter.
» Press: The circle with the line, the sun, the rain drop, the cloud, the thunder.

No luck. Guessing this code is not working out very well!

» Take sun medallion to the light room, and activate medallion.

It gets all flashy and shiny and stuff. ‘Activation’ or whatever: success!

» In the generator room is our fire.

You head towards the generator room to get the fire going but find that the door you opened way back when you woke up is shut again. How totally mysterious and stuff!

» We also have the ID card, maybe it will allow us to access something we normally can not?
» Oh yeah, go to that one room with the lockers and use ID card on card swipe thing!!!

You take Dr. Les’ ID card and swipe it in the swipe-y thing. The blast door opens quite promptly! The hall behind it curves away to the side, though you can see light coming from the end.

You follow the hall to… a rather large room. There are a bunch of posts along the single, circular wall, and a giant glowing white orb in the ceiling.

» Hold Skree to see if he is familiar with the giant orb.

Nothing from Skree. He is thoroughly uninterested.

» There is a tiny hole in place of one of the posts. Check it out.

One of the posts is missing from its… pedestal, or hole, or whatever. Next to it is a small, somewhat familiar-looking hole in the wall. Hm.


You charge up the ramp and into the large, white, glowing sphere of light.

On the inside it is… very dark. There are some flickers of light showing a mechanical interior, but that’s about all you can make out. You ascend.

You appear to be in some kind of… well, you can’t really say one way or the other, but there appears to be some machinery and contraptions and what not. It’s pretty damn dark, though.

» Walk over to the right and examine the machinery/computer.

You head over to examine the console. Skree doesn’t like the feel of the grate flooring and screeches at you from the ramp.

The monitor is just flickering static. There is another small screen that’s been smashed and isn’t readable – something appears to have been thrown right through the screen. Working stuff appears to include a clutch lever pulled to its downwards position, a turn coordinator that’s level with the horizon, an airspeed indicator at 0, some kind of power-monitoring grid, and a keyboard wired in to the working monitor.

» Put your VHS tape in the VCR-looking thing below the screen.

You pop the cassette in. There are a few little playback buttons, so you rewind it all the way and then press play.

After a moment, the static begins to clear.

A robot like you is digging in the background. Another walks past the camera, closer. Sound emits from all around you as a voice begins to fade in.

“All right, this is, uh… wait hold on, let’s try that again”

The camera cuts ahead suddenly.

“Ahem. This is Doctor—Rusty! Get outta here, slobberhead! I’m making a—”

The camera jumps ahead a second time.

“Uh… ahem… this is Doctor Preston Alexander Les, on, uh… Oh hell, I’m going to have to start over again—”

“Would you relax? It’s fine, it’s just a video log, we’re not submitting this to a scientific review panel or anything.”

“Right, right, uh… okay, so what you’re seeing right now is our ‘bots – Claire, you’re in the shot!”

“Oh, sorry, Preston, am I ruining your award-winning documentary?”

“Ha ha ha. Listen, when we make the discovery of the century and they want to know how we did it and I say ‘Sorry, my colleague got in the way of every video I took—’”

‘My colleague?’ You tease.”

“Oh, don’t be like that, you know what—”

“—have a clue. I haven’t seen anything like it.”

“Well, can we get a sample?”

“I’ve tried chipping at the damn things, I can’t even leave a mark!”

“Aw, Mister Big Strong Scientist can’t even dent an itty-bitty rock?”

“…You’re filming this?! Give me my camera!”

“I’d hardly call it a ‘camera,’ this thing’s gotta be at least a hundred years old—”

“It’s an antique, and you’re getting your hands all over it!”

“Take your silly toy then, you big baby—”

“Hey, did you hear that?”


“Sounded like thunder.”

“Thunder? Here?”

“Maybe we should get insi—”

“—you up to?”

“Just another journal entry. Not much else to do, unless we make some progress soon.”

“Yeah. Slow going lately.”

“‘Slow going’ is an incorrect term. That would imply we were making any progress at all.”

There is some silence.

“I’m, uh… going to head up to see how the ‘bots are doing on the cabin.”

“Have fun with that.”

The camera lingers before turning and leaving the living room.

“Geez… Somebody hasn’t been getting enough sleep lately…”

“Hm… coming along pretty nicely—”

“—old it still, okay? Steady! Just… okay, just focus it on me, all right?”

“Bloody ‘bot… Right, okay, so this is a little critter… I think Feringus wants to call ‘em oculoids? So this is an oculoid. They just sorta showed up the other day and they’ve finally stopped jumping around long enough for us to get ’em to cooperate. It’s a weird-looking bugger, that’s for sure. So I’m going to see here what it’s visual reaction time is, get a better idea of how that big ol’ eye works. ”

“All right, now hold still, little buddy… I’m just gonna shine this light around your—”


“Hold your horses little bud—”

“—a pissy little rock, isn’t it.”

“Yeah. Funny, that.”


“Well, I mean… how familiar the whole weather system is, you know?”

“I wouldn’t say ‘funny.’”

“All right, it’s not funny, all right? It’s ‘interesting.’ Okay? Interesting.”

“I would accept ‘interesting.’”

There are sounds of rain for a few moments.

“What do you think we should call it?”

“Hardly seems our place to do so.”

“Well, you know, just between us then. What would you call it, I’ll say.”

“I haven’t given much thought to the matter. Something pretentious, I imagine. Possibly in Latin. This awful place deserves no less.”

“Maybe ‘Uter Aquae?’”

“Too comical. ‘Procella,’ perhaps.”

More silence; rain.

“Got a sort of a ring to it, doesn’t—”




“Grab it, grab it!”

“Got it! It’s out. Are you okay?”

“What the hell just happened?! I didn’t do anything and it just jumped at me—”

“Not just you; it went for me, too. A whole species can’t be classified as bi-polar, can it? And come give me a hand with this thing, you can play with your stupid camera later.”

“It’s not— Regardless, I think that’s the last straw for the ‘intelligent species’ theory.”

“Good. I’ve just about had it with baby-talking these things to calm them d—”

“—did it, Feringus. We did it.”

“We’re not done yet by any stretch, Les. It’s progress, yes, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

“But we’ve found it, Feringus. This compound matches all the required parameters! This is our Chemical X! Fourteen months and we’ve finally found it!”

“That may be so, but until we’ve found a way to get substantial quantities of it we’re not done here. There’s still much more work to do.”

“Fine by me. And at least we’ll actually be making progress now. I’m just glad those damn creatures actually ended up being useful for someth—”

The audio fades out permanently as the tape stops playing.

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Chapter 5: Conflict of Interest

» Take the hat

Oh baby. I’ll never leave you again, I promise.

Skree gives you a weird look. You can only assume he is jealous of your sweet fedora. But who cares what he thinks, because right now…

…it’s time…

…to adventure.

» Take backpack

You got your stuff back! Wooooooooo! Time to ditch this piece of cord you’ve had slung around your shoulder for the last little while.

YOU HAVE: A cracked egg, a dead bird, an eyepatch, a broken and empty bottle of Glen Avon whisky, a til of oil, Les’ skull, the video cassette from the piano room, the eyedol, two coins, some string, a broken music box, the sun medallion, and a tin of Dapper Dan Men’s Pomade.

» Remove his arm to replace the one you’re missing.

You grab his arm and shove it into your wirey-socket. Your body accepts the new arm quite easily. Sorry, Scrapheap, but an adventurer’s gotta do what an adventurer’s gotta do.

» Examine the body with one arm. Is it human or a robot? How did it die? Why does it have one arm the same as we have one arm?

It’s the same as you, whatever that means. Looks skin-like on the outside, but has wiring all along its inside. This guy is pretty out of commission. His head’s been knocked loose from the body, his limbs are all snapped or broken off, and he’s got some kind of weird square-ish panel on his forehead.

You also just took his only good arm, so there’s that too.

» Check with Skree to make sure he isn’t traumatized.

He seems pretty happy to be in the cold room now that the monster’s dead.

» Play music box.


» Reattach claw arm.

Also busted.

» Remove some of the teeth from the slain monster thing. Use them to make our robotic arm menace with spikes.

Bones are pretty tough, and these ones seem pretty solid. No way you’re going to be able to snap anything off.

» Examine the room to see if we missed anything items of interest.

Not much else here that isn’t teeth, tentacles, frosted eye-goop, ceiling chunks, or crap that fell in from the kitchen. Excluding that, there’s a note on the ground, and that thermostat-looking thing on the wall.

» Grab the note in the room where we first found the big monster. Read it.

You grab the note; it appears to be one of several pages stuck together, likely from the notebook you recovered earlier.

to get suspicious.

Day 204

A discovery! Despite my assertions otherwise, Les appears to have been correct about the strange skittering noises we have heard being indicative of the presence organic life forms! Today an eye-looking creature crawled into our lower labs – I say ‘eye-looking’ because half its body mass must have been in the one single unblinking eye. It stared at us briefly then fled, presumably in animalistic fear. We followed it but were led to a dead end in the cave system. We are uncertain as to how it escaped our sight.

I will list what I was able to gather of its appearance thus far:
– Its body mass is predominantly a single eye, with a large pupil and a wide, horizontal line struck through it. Uncertain as to the purpose of the line.
– It moves around by spreading its presumably light weight across many long, tangled black tentacles.
– Directly underneath its eye is another set of hanging tentacles, these ones thicker, shorter, and a more grey colour. There appears to be some sort of bone structure behind it, but we were unable to see past this. Perhaps a protected exoskeleton? Other appendages? I can only speculate.

We have ceased looking for the creature and will attempt to appeal to it by resuming our working and hoping it returns of its own curiousity.

Day 209

The creatures have now hung around for three days, and with a bit of coercion they have become comfortable enough around us to let us examine them. I must correct my prior observations with new information I have learned during my time with the creatures, which we are now tentatively calling ‘oculoids.’

– The line through their pupil appears to be part of their pupil as well. Without a scientific analysis I must presume it is to achieve depth perception to make up for the single eye, though I do not understand the workings behind this.
– There is a distinction between its two types of tentacles: the long, thin, black ones are used for propulsion as expected, and the thick grey short ones serve three purposes: As a protective shield in front of its weak spine, to grip objects and pass them into its large teeth structure for feeding using a secreted sticky coating, and to scare predators away. We are uncertain as to what predators exist in this place, nor where it stores nutrients from food.
– Its food source is very tough and likely relatively immobile or slow, as indicated by its large, powerful teeth, and the difficulty with which it consumes things.
– The origination of this sensation is undiscerned, but when in close contact with a creature oculoid, powerful emotions are felt. A defense mechanism? Until the creatures return, we cannot investigate further.

We will prepare a set of tools for their eventual return. An internal examination is necessary to understand these creatures better.

Day 212

Rusty has been barking all night. The creatures again? They will no longer leave

That’s the last page.

» Drag adventurer to medical room.

All right, you’ve got two arms now, let’s drag this guy outta here. Maybe you can give him a jump start with that machine you were hooked up to or something.

Hm. This could be tricky.

» Pull at the “sewage” door. Does it seem to be frozen stuck? If so, see if you can increase temperature using thermostat.

You leave Scrappy on the stairs and head back downstairs to investigate. Yup, it’s totally frozen shut.

You crank the temperature up. Could take a bit to fully defrost, though.

» Put paper hat on Skree, so that he can adventure as well.

For his valiance and courage, you promote Skree to Junior Adventurer First Class with a fine salute. Perhaps one day he can reach the illustrious rank of Master Petty Chief Adventurer like you.

» Imagine jolly quest with adventuring side-kick.

You imagine a fantastic adventure-romp through a magical time kingdom ruled by an evil queen and her personal army of servants. You are able to defeat her using your wits and the power of friendship!!! And also archaeology, because that is what adventuring is about too.

» Construct a crude whip from giant oculoid tentacles.

They are gooey and slimey. This is not going to work.

» Search around for some sturdy boards and build a bridge across the gap. Ask Skree for a little help in doing so.

Doubtful that’s going to happen. However, you have a better idea.

Tally hoooooooo!

» Check inside robo-adventurer’s head.

You jump after him and check him out in the living room. Looks like touching the panel makes it pop open. There’s a little cartridge thing inside.

» Take the little cartridge thing and try to stick it in our head… if we have a similar panel we don’t know about.

You take off you hat. Doesn’t look like there’s a panel…

You try pressing down and a little square panel dissevers itself from your forehead. Huh. Damn thing looked indistinguishable until accessed.

Opening the panel, you see your own little memory chip thingy. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Let’s see what happens.

You pop the junked bot’s chip into your own head.

Nothing happe–


Your vision is replaced by some playback video. I guess the broken dude you found? He is looking at that paper you saw in the medical room.

The feed cuts ahead to—hey, whoa, is that your body?

You are being dragged, unconscious.

You watch as your lifeless body has various wires plugged into it. This seems vaguely familiar.

He takes your bad arm from its socket and appears to be examining it. Very scientific, this guy.

Hey! What the hell?! That was your arm, man!

He returns to the medical room and replaces one of the question marks with an exclamation mark.

The bot takes your backpack off and begins examining it. He seems to find it useful, as he keeps it.

He has taken particular interest in the notepad you found in Dr. Feringus’ room.

He flips through to where a page is torn in half, then abruptly stops.

Taking the pen, he scribbles on the page under the ripped page and finds the indentation made by the previous page. A real life amateur detective.

Q3X5G7. Never would have guessed that.

Hey you put that down mister that’s not for you you don’t just take somebody’s hat— Ah, no point complaining now. It already happened.

Buddy has left the medical room (with your hat) and is unlocking the warm room. I guess he was hanging out in this area the whole time.

…Now he’s cleaning up the living room. You’re not sure what to make of this.

And… rotating the fruit bowl?

He heads through the fridge accessway, apparently open— oh, no. You suddenly realize where this is going.

Turn back, man! Hello! Dude! That thing’s… Get out of there!!!

Run, dude, run!

He’s going for the door, he’s going for the door, he’s gonna–

» Rotate fruit bowl

You pop your chip back in your own head and are met with another error screen for a moment. Apparently your chip’s busted. No wonder you can’t remember anything.

You vision returning, you pop the other guy’s chip back into his head. You can’t help but feel bad for him, hat-theivery or not. The guy did fix you up when you were down and out, after all; and since he had intended to come back he had probably only meant to borrow your stuff rather than keep it altogether.

Time to see what he was up to. You twist the fruit bowl and hear some clanking, followed by a crashing sound and some tinkling.

It appears the fridge machinery exploded or something. It’s leaking a lot of dark smoke. I guess this was some kind of secret way to get in and out of the freezer easily? Now that one of the rails is destroyed and the room is smashed up it doesn’t appear to be working properly. It also looks like the frost from the room below has cleared.

» Use Q3X5G7 as password in the computer downstairs.

You type in the stupid password and are given complete access to all the computer functions you couldn’t touch before.

DOORLOCK, RAMPDOWN, EMRGEXIT, and CAVETRAP are turned off. LIFESPRT is turned on. You recall turning DOORLOCK and CAVETRAP from on to off the last time you fiddled around with this.

» Attempt to repair hat-thief.

You drag the poor guy back up to the medical room (Skree staying behind as usual) and plop him onto the bedtablething. Okay, you’ve got five wires, four character slots on the machine, the numbers 1 through 9, and no idea what to do. Let’s get this party started.


You turn on EMRGEXIT and RAMPDOWN. No whirr-clunking from the walls this time; the effects are apparently a bit too far away to be heard.

On your way back upstairs, you notice a new staircase in the smithy. You decide to go try to fix up your friend before you keep exploring, though.

» Search the damaged guy for a serial number.

Nope, nothing. If the panel in your head was so well-hidden, though, who knows what other information or panels are hidden on him.

» Plug in the other memory card and do what it did.

You pop in the dude’s memory chip and decide to pay a bit more attention this time.

Okay, that wire goes there… that one goes there…

You pay careful attention to his fingers this time. He enters “5315.” From what you can see, nothing else happens, but he seems satisfied and moves on.

You pop the chip out and hook up the wires, then enter 5315 yourself.

Voltage is a little high. Sorry buddy! You’d better lower it before you fry him.

» Lower it to 4000.

There’s no ‘0,’ weirdly, but you lower the number to 4111. The electric flickers along the wires ceases.

» Raise it in increments of 100 until something happens.

You continue raising the voltage until you see any sort of reaction. At around 4611 the electric flickering starts up again, so you dial it down to 4511 and leave it. Hopefully that’s enough to power him back up, though it’ll probably take a little bit.

» Go down the stairs.

You head down the stairs, bringing Skree with you.

The room is filled with five lockers, each marked with a symbol – an eye, a sun, a cloud, a raindrop, and a lightning bolt. Familiar. On the right side of the room is a door marked ‘LAB’ with an image of a beaker on it and a six-button keypad next to it. There are two oculoid skeletons here, though there are no tentacles here. On the back wall is a larger blast door and a card swipey thingy.

» Open all the lockers, if possible.

In the eye locker you find a control panel. It has a pulley switch set to the ‘up’ position.

In the lightning bolt locker you find another map, this time for “4F.”

In the cloud locker you find… a corpse? It’s a headless robot body in a labcoat.

The sun and raindrop lockers are locked.

» Swipe memory through swipe-slot.

It’s not shaped right for that – the slot is practically paper-thin, while the memory chip is more cartridge-shaped.

» Put Skree on the headless robot body so it looks like a funny oculoid person

You put Skree on top of the robot body. Aww, how cute! He thinks he’s people!

Then again, I guess so do you.

He gets an electric shock and jumps off. Enough of that, then.

» Take the labcoat and wear it.

You become Dr. Adventure Guy. This one fits a little better than the last labcoat you found, too.

» Search the labcoat’s pockets.

You find another ID card. This one belonged to Les, apparently.

» Examine keypad next to lab door.

It has the same symbols as the lockers have, in a mixed-up order. There is also a ‘enter’ key.

» Take scientist’s body to medical room.

You drag the body to the light room, but have your doubts about getting him up the ladder.

» Take the arm and give it to Hat Thief.

Unfortunately, the body’s quite harmless. Er. Armless.

» Go check on the “SEWAGE” door.

You make your way across the kitchen and back into the freezer. The frost is gone and the eye-gunk along with it. Actually, it feels a little toasty in here. The SEWAGE door is definitely unstuck now; you open it quite easily.

You enter the sewage room. Bleck, that smell! It’s rather… pungent in here. Several pipes are pouring gunky water into a basin in the middle of the room. A small panel in a machine on the wall is open and appears to be missing some wires. There is some kind of meter across the basin as well as another note.

Gentleman is here.

» Ask the gentleman what he is doing here, where he’s been, and if he knew he was a robot.
» Also ask if he knows how to fix one.
» Ask the gentleman if he’s a robot, what he’s doing there, and how he got in.
» Ask the Gentleman whether you could pop his head open and take a look at his memory.

Gentleman asks you why a creature is following you around.

» Quit playing metaphorical dodgeball with our questions MR. SIR!
» Offer Skree up for Gentleman to pet to show how friendly he is.

You call him out on dodging your questions, but tell him that Skree is your friendly adventuring sidekick. You pick Skree up and are about to hold him out for a pettin’ when you suddenly get feelings of anxiety and discomfort from the little guy. You hesitate to hold him out.

Gentleman asks why you are not following the oculoid management protocol.

» Tell him we would quite possibly be happy to. But we do not know what this protocol is.
» Be prepared to kick Gentleman into the sewage if the protocol turns out to be extermination.

You inquire as to what the protocol is. He says that all oculoids must be dispatched due to safety concerns.

» That sounds like extermination! Go to plan poop-kick!

You panic slightly and throw courtesy to the wind. You also throw your foot out at Gentleman. Nobody’s going to dispatch your buddy!

Gentleman catches your foot. Oh. Er. Looks like his reflexes are just as good as yours.

He asks why you are protecting the creature. Your programming should not be resisting this action. Are you in need of maintenance work?

» Tell him that if he touches Skree, he dies.

You tell him that if he lays one lousy hand on Skree he’s dead robomeat. He says that would not be possible, as to the best of his knowledge oculoids do not have a contact-sensitive natural weapon. He releases your foot.

» Yes, we most likely do need maintenance.

You wonder if you do actually need maintenance work done. You ask him what sort of work. He says that he must shut off your systems while he reboots your personality logic board.

That… doesn’t sound good.

» Well tell him to F-off about maintenance, too.

You tell him you are just fine and don’t need none of his maintenance crap. He maintains that your wiring appears to be defective and that he must repair you.

He suddenly holds out the water medallion over the murky pool. He says he is aware you are collecting the three medallions, and if you express continued hostility he will drop it into the filthy sewage basin to impede your progress.

He says your power cell is in your back. He says to turn around immediately or he will assume you have opted for continued non-compliance.

» Tell Skree to flee!
» Don’t obey. Punch him out.

You aren’t having any of this macguffin-as-hostage crap. You shout for Skree to run (wiggle?) and start your fist a-swingin’.

Gentleman moves to catch your fist, but momentarily pauses as the fleeing oculoid catches his eye. You seize the gap in his defenses.


Gentleman hits the far wall headfirst, then falls into the sewage, unconscious. The water medallion goes flying in as well. A panel on Gentleman’s head reveals itself.

» Find a way to turn off the flow of sewage first. We don’t want to go in there unless we really have to.
» Pull the back wall lever, it might drain the sewage

You pull the lever on the back wall. Nothing happens. Probably these damn broken electrical wires.

» Pick up the note.

The mining shaft hit some kinda big cavern today! Would be mad about having to re-plan the diggin’ but it was actually pretty cool :D It was fulla more of that magma-like stuff but this time there were trees growing up from in it, without burning up or anything! Feringus says we can use ‘em for something but I think it’s just super exciting to see. I hope they turn out to be sentient… ain’t found nothing yet we could talk to. A man could go stir-crazy out here without some good conversation! -Les

» Steal his hat

The hat appears to have mostly melted into the sewage basin. Disconcerting.

» Open up the panel.

You look up to figure out how to get Gentleman’s body out of there to see that he is gone as well.

Ew. What is this stuff? You’re pretty sure you don’t want to go in it one way or the other.

» Show idol to Skree. How does he react?

You head upstairs and find Skree sitting on the couch in the living room.

Skree goes nuts as soon as you take out the eyedol, jumping around everywhere. It is actually pretty adorable.

» Check on the hat thief.

Must be stormy out again. The weather door is locked down.

While pondering what to do about this, you hear a noise from the other room.

» Investigate the noise…

You return to the living room to investigate and find Skree freaking out up on the ceiling.

Weird. What’s the little fella doing up there?


Gentleman is here.

» Say hello and apologize about that unpleasant acid business.

You awkwardly attempt to explain away your previous aggression. Can’t we just put this all behind us?

Ow! I guess no—



There is a momentary pause in your beatdown. Gentleman appears to be processing something.

Da-a-a-a-a-a-amage approaching critical lev-ev-ev-evels. Mainten-en-enance required imme-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-diately.

He gives you what you can only approximate to be a look of resentment, the first time he’s shown any emotion, and begins to leave.

I will re-e-e-e-e-e-e-eturn to continue carrying out reparation protocol.

Do n-n-n-not get comfortable.

He is gone.

Skree crawls out from under the couch and moves to your side. You can feel him emoting at you.

get up get up get up

Maybe not right now. You’re pretty tired… it might be…

nap… time…

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