» 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!!!!
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 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.
» …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.