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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.