This is my first PSO fanfiction, with any luck it won't be my last
Apologies for the length, it was intended as a short story but i could not stop typing and this is the shortest it could be and still make sense.
(There is a Rich Text Format version located HERE
if you want to print it out
--------- Legendary Hunter: Red Ring Rico ---------
Rico tossed the message disk to the ground in front of the crystalline monument in the middle of the small room and whinced as it clattered to a rest, the metallic sound echoing throughout the chamber. She silently cursed herself for commiting such a newbie error, crouching behind the crystalline monument, she listened attentively for signs that she had been detected. After what seemed like an eternity she relaxed and slumped wearily to sit against the thing she was using for cover. As she rested her thoughts turned back to the events that had lead her to this place.
---Image of Hero---
As a young girl she had always wanted to be a hunter, much to the disapproval of her father, a high ranking government official. He always had said she got 'that' streak from her mother and she could see the sadness behind his eyes whenever he mentioned it but she had also inherited her mother's stubborness as well. It was no help that a close friend of the family was Heathcliff Flowen, a commander in the military and a hunter of some repute. In time she learned from the best and aquired a reputation of her own.
Stage one of the Pioneer project became complete with the decision that the planetary candidate Ragol was the best choice. Next came the difficult steps of establishing a initial coloney and then the transportation of the millions of citizens of Coral there. With this, the giant Pioneer ships underwent construction.
Due to the unknowns of landing on a strange planet many light years from home, the council of the Pioneer project gave authorisation for a considerable military force to be included along with the contingent of scientists, engineers and colonists. There was also a voluntary call for a limited number of experienced hunters and Rico had felt that it was an obvious choice for her to go. Her father had objected, he had been commissioned as Principal for Pioneer 2 and wished for her to accompany him.
She refused his offer, stating that Pioneer 2 would arrive several years after Pioneer 1 and by then she would "miss all the action". After that the conversation quickly degraded to argument and she had stormed out defiant to his fading pleas. It was a couple of years later that Flowen had confided to her that her father approached him and asked him to look out for his "little girl".
At this sentiment tears slowly began welling up in Rico's eyes but she choked them back and once again went back to the story unfolding in her mind to distract herself. It would be seven whole years before Pioneer 2 made its way to Ragol, an age to pass before she could begin reconcilliation with her father, but now, she conceded that she might never see him again.
---The Whole New World---
Eight months before their arrival a serious earthquake had shaken the area causing damage to many structures including the Central Dome, the centre piece of coloney. Worse still was the news that her close friend Heathcliff Flowen had died as a result of injuries sustained during the quake. There was much secrecy surrounding the circumstances of his death and even where he was when it happened, but she wrote it off as standard military paranoia.
Since that day, faint tremors came with alarming frequency, the colonist became concerned that the very spot they had chosen was built over a major fault even though geological surveys had reveal no such tectonic activity for thousands of kilometres in every direction. Another thing of note was that incidents of animal attacks on colonists were virtually unheard of before the quake but following ever increasing levels of agression it became so that many researchers refused to venture to the forests surrounding the Central Dome without being accompanied by a hunter. Rico had actively sought out such missions, a respite from the long stretches of boredom and inactivity.
And so it was on one of these babysitting jobs that she encountered the Rappies. An indigenous bird-like species she had reckoned that one might make a nice gift for her father. However, as precious few days remained for her to capture one, she notice that these local residents were becoming more and more scarce, almost as if they knew that something was coming and didn't want to be there.
---Mother Earth of Dishonesty---
The big day came and with just a few hours before Pioneer 2 reached orbit, Rico had decided to make one final effort to get something. She set off through the transporter, her destination, one of the remote animal observation posts to the south of the coloney. After many hours of fruitless search for something suitable she was about to call it a day when an electric hum followed by a low thunder-like rumble echoed through the skies overhead.
She had looked up to see a faintly coloured beam of light pierce through the clouds from above and the beam was moving northwards towards the coloney...Pioneer 2 was here already! She began to run towards the transporter, the communications beam still visible above the trees infront. Reaching the clearing of the outpost, she had hastily input the co-ordinates to return, all the while casting furtive glances north, hoping not to miss any more of the impressive lightshow taking place in the distance.
What had followed had initially puzzled her, of course with what she knew now it all made sense but at the time....
All Rico remembered was seeing the beam of Pioneer 1 cutout just before the two beams could lock and an ever expanding ball of blue-ish white energy engulf the location of the coloney before filling her vision with blinding light.
When she had awoken, she could not determine how long she had been out for. The transporter failed to work and it had taken all her skill to find a work-around, namely set the co-ordinates manualy and boost the power enough to make a one-way jump. She had blinded gone through, not caring what horrors she might find on the otherside, only wishing to get there as soon as possible.
She had set the destination conservatively, well outside the boundaries of the settlement, she had reasoned that the blast would cause extensive damage and she did not want to appear potentially in the middle of a blast crater. But what she found exceeded her wildest expectations. There was no sign of damage anywhere! The trees, ground and walls showed no mark that anything nearly as cataclysmic as what she had witnessed had even taken placed.
This was a mystery that would require examination and so she had made some notes on message disks that she dropped as she made her way towards the Central Dome. Rico remembered glancing heaven-ward towards the invisible form of where Pioneer 2 might lie in orbit around the planet. She knew that a rescue party might not be forthcoming for hours or even days. They would have no way of knowing what the result of the explosion was. She would have to initiate contact with them.
Apart from the influx of forest animals there had been no indication of any survivors and initial relief had turned into frustration when she had discovered that the computer terminals she encountered were either offline or non-functional.
With the Central Dome within sight, the gentle hum of energy directed her attention to a sealed off alcove. Bypassing the security doors was simple and she had found herself infront of the Pioneer commemorative pillar. Allegedly built as a tribute to their landing on Ragol it had been sealed off around the time of the big quake, official sources said it had been damaged and was under renovation. Once out of sight it had quickly faded from the minds of people. She had never really paid it much attention before but now it glowed with a faint aura and the characters on its surfaced seemed illuminated as if a light were contained inside. She wasn't sure why she had done it at the time, but she recorded the image of the characters with the P-Sys device mounted on her forearm.
---Growl, From the Depths of the Earth---
Distraction over, she finally reached the Central Dome to find that it was as devoid of life as it was of damage. Rico had begun to despair at the whole situation. Just when she thought that she might be completely alone, she heard a faint sound, almost like someone crying out for help. It took her many minutes to locate the source, ventilation shafts leading down into the bowels of the Dome. Here was hope for her at last. Maybe the others had learned of the impending disaster and had sought refuge below. With the Dome's security doors firmly in place and with all computer systems inoperable, the only way down was the hard way, via the shafts.
It turned out that practice was exceedingly more difficult than theory and after many minutes of laboured descent she lost her footing and slid rapidly in the darkness towards the bottom. Breaking out of the narrow pipe she had found herself inside a gigantic cavern seemingly located directly beneath the Central Dome, but with no way of judging the depth she had plummeted during her fall. Strangly there was another set of security doors set some way into the wall. This meant that the architects had known of this place and had accounted for it during construction.
This confused her, the cavern was empty, so what had been the source of the noise? Had she fallen too far? Those thoughts were interrupted by an mighty crash followed by a low gutteral roar. She had encountered her first dragon. It was unlike anything she had seen before, well over thirty metres in length and belching fire like in the stories told to her as a little girl.
The curtains of flame that filled the air had made any kind of close combat impossible and wisely she had chose to flee into one of the caves leading away into the mountain rather than face such a beast unecessarily.
---The Kink in the Wind and the Way---
Once her eyes had adjusted to the dim light conditions she found she had entered the cave system that pervaded much of the mountain range directly north of the coloney. She had read much of the survey team's reports, she knew that almost none of the caves lead to the surface, her best bet would be to make way to the geothermal power plant located at the far-end of the cave system north-east of her current location.
The first section was made hazardous due to the numerous lava flows, no doubt caused by the earthquakes, that had resulted in plenty of backtracking, but she had soon learned to spot the signs of explorers that had gone before her and so progress became swifter. What she had not expected was resistance from the creatures she encountered in the caves. They seemed overly aggressive and would attack her in preference over other creatures.
Further progress through the caves saw a change in scenery, the path she had chosen led her close to the surface, pools of water and and trees and plants florished here and there where holes in the roof allowed sunlight to flood in. Sunlight! So it was day but what day, had she travelled all night? Her body felt heavy, wearied from the distance and continous combat and her hunger was only barely held back through strict rationing of the Mates she had forgotten to remove from her personal storage inventory. But escape was not possible here, the steep rock walls presenting a challenge to great.
Pressing on deeper saw more evidence of Pioneer technology, security barriers and mines serving to hold back subterranean intruders. Despite these inconveniences, her pace had quickened in response to the approach of the familiar. It was during her rush onwards that she had almost missed an oh-so familiar hum and there it was, a pillar identical to the one from the forest save for a few main characters. This had got her thinking about what this could mean. Clearly someone else had built them, but who? And for what purpose? She knew that there was some significance to these pillars and perhaps the key lay in the cryptic symbols that adorned their surface. She was now glad that she had captured images of the first one, it might give her opportunity to descern some meaning from them later.
It would still be many hours before she would arrive at her destination and her heart had nearly stopped when the formidable security doors of the facility had not opened immediately. Exploration of the power station proved to be difficult, doors, lifts and other electrical systems seemed to be faulty on a near random basis. These failures had also meant that creatures roamed the corridors giving her no time to seek rest. It was during her time spent roaming the many floors that she realised that like the Central Dome there was no sign of any of the colonists. It had seemed like they had vanished without a trace, playing some giant game of hide-and-seek, ready to pop out and reveal themselves at any time.
Rico had been unsuprised to discover that all service elevators to the surface, it had seemed fitting given the chain of events that had occured so far. She had weighed up her options, of which there were three. Stay here in the facility, there was food enough to last her months probably and she could section of a suitable area and defend against the wandering creatures until a search party from Pioneer 2 arrived. The second was more risky, fight a way back through the caves risking another encounter with the dragon and hope to climb out to the Central Dome. Her final choice and most likely of all was to find a functional terminal and see if there was some kind of service shaft she could scale to the surface.
When she had finally got her hands on the schematic of the station she was dismayed to see that the shaft was around a kilometre in height, but at the lowest floor there was a dock area for the underground river that the power station drew water from. A lucky break at last! Docks meant boats and the river must end somewhere, she could ride it out.
---From Seeing the Rough Wave---
The docks themselves proved to be a puzzle in themselves, they were crammed with boxes of supplies and weapons and moreover only a automatic cargo barge was docked there, it too piled with similar items. The barge offered no control panel with which to program a destination, so it must have been used to ferry items between two destinations, but where? Was this equipment being brought here or was it being prepared to use elsewhere? There were enough weapons there to equip an army...
It was while she worked on a panel that activated the raft that she realised that she was not alone, a creature had emerged from the water and was poking around the stacks of boxes. This looked like the ones she had christened sharks yet at the same time different. It was much smaller for a start, and its claws seemed underdeveloped. She had been unsure what to make of it, perhaps it was a child of the species, but she would get no time to decide on a course of action, as the water near where the creature had emerged began to churn and bubble violently.
What had finally broken the surface was astonishing, a giant worm-like creature, what happened next was even more amazing. The giant worm had tentacles that protruded from behind what she assumed was its head and it used one of these tentacles to pierce the young shark nearby. This done, it rolled over and disappeared once more beneath the murky depths.
From behind the boxes she used as cover she had watched the creature writhing in pain. She was stunned as she watched the creature mutate before her very eyes! She could see it slowly come to resemble the things that she had battled against throughout the caves. Was that worm responsible for transforming all the creatures? What would happen if one of those tentacles hit her? Would she be transformed too?
Those thoughts had disturbed her, after all, with that monster inhabiting the water her escape route had suddenly been made infinitly more perilous. Her resolve saved her, she was Red Rico Rico, a legendary hunter! And what feat could possibly be more legendary than facing something like that. She quickly dispatched the shark before it could reach full strength and activated the raft to go to its destination.
Leaping aboard she had hid herself amongst the boxes piled high as the raft slowly gained speed down the poorly illuminated channel. The sound of rushing water from behind assured her that her departure had not gone unnoticed. Drawing out her trusted Kaladbolg she prepared for battle. The monstrous serpent swam up alongside with the raft and with a mighty leap in the air pounced upon the raft, the long hooked teeth of its armoured head burying deep into the surface of the raft.
The sheer force of this attack had caused the entire raft to shake, sending Rico to the floor and with its weight concentrated to one side the raft began to list heavily, sending boxes tumbling against the creature and into the water. Once Rico had regained her composure she attacked it in earnest but her blows seemed to do no damage to its armoured carapace. It shook the raft in attempt to perhaps knock her into the water but she had wisened on to this early on and stood her ground.
It had then unleashed its tentacle attack on her. The first blow came as a suprise, nearly cracking through her frame, the next flurry of shots neatly deflected with the Ring she wore on her left arm. As the water began to lap at her feet she knew that she must do something or risk having the raft sink beneath her. Watching the way the serpent flexed as it struggled to remain clamped on gave her an idea. She had smashed open the few remaining boxes till she chanced upon exactly what she needed, a berdys. She picked up the long sword and charge the worm with a loud yell. Avoiding its clumsy attempts to stop her with its tentacles she had plunged the weapon deep into its 'neck' at the joint between two segments. The effect was almost immediate, it gave off a shrill, high-pitched scream then relinquishing its grip, peeled off and plunged once more into the depths.
She had waited many minutes, unable to relax until she was sure that it would not return for a fresh assault. Shifting her focus to the journey itself, she was concerned at the sheer length on this underground channel. With low-powered lighting mounted at regular intervals into the ceiling and structural bracing where needed the tunnel seemed almost purpose-built, an unnaturally convenient system of transport for some hidden purpose. Sensing a drop in speed, she had glanced up ahead to see a set of docks similiar to the ones that she had left behind. Once the raft ground to a halt she leapt off, fearful of how vunerable she was on it or that it might sink.
Rico was snapped back to reality by the metallic hum in the distance. Rising slowly to a crouching position, she strained her ears to determine the source. Most likely Gunners, patrolling the area. They served as mindless sentinels, packing quite a punch but easy to trick into injuring any enemies present also. Rico held her breath and listened closely to the sound they made when they hovered. She wondered if they may have been alerted by her dropping of the message disk but the only sound that greeted now was silence. Satisfied that she remained undetected, she sat back down on the ground and closing her eyes, cast her mind back once more to events of the past.
---Empty Space out of Control---
The loading area at which she had found herself had signs that indicated that she had arrived at the Razorback Mines. These mines were situated over fifty kilometres away from the Central Dome and a considerable distance again from the Geothermal plant downstream. With the elevators working she ascended into the unknown. This mining facility also doubled as a research facility, home to the renowned Doctor Osto.
As before, this place too was abandoned, with no sign of anyone. But there was a difference too, namely indications that before they had disappeared there had been panic and maybe an attempt to escape whatever fate had eventually befallen them. The research labs were messy with notes, disks and other materials scattered and piled into boxes haphazardly. She also had encountered her first hostile force in the labs, robots. Clearly they were used for mining, but these walked through the rooms with a purpose and each had modifications that seemed unnecessary for a strictly mining purpose. Was she just being naive or was there something more sinister at work here?
While looking for a suitable terminal so that she could check the logs for a clue of happened, she stumbled upon the Intelligence called Calus. Flowen had explained to her once several years ago that the military had created three Artificial Intelligences for their needs called: Calus, Vol Opt and Olga. Unlike the Intelligences for the Central Dome, Siris and Weatherman, the military designed theirs to be adaptable as well as multifunctional.
"Calus? What happened here?"
The one word reply had caused a small shiver to pass down Rico's back, but she persisted with the question. Calus informed her that the people had anticipated something was going to happen mere minutes before it had and that an energy surge had caused Calus to shut down in order to protect his core functions. When he had rebooted, he had found that the labs had been abandoned but that he had lost access to most of the internal sensors and so was unable to verify this accurately. Asked about the robots, Calus informed her that the robots fell under the control of Vol Opt who was not only incharge of mining operations but security as well, which meant the outer doors and elevators leading to the surface. With internal communications severed as well, she would have to physically reach Vol Opt in order to disable the alert status.
She was about to leave when she remembered something important. She uploaded the data from the two pillars she had encountered and instructed Calus to see if he could make any sense of it. If Calus discovered anything he was to mail her via the BEE system, his one form of working telecommunication. Upon this, Calus flashed up a route on one of his monitors, which Rico rapidly commited to memory. Setting off, she descended into the lower levels of the mines themselves.
She had found the lower mines much harder going, many of the halls were populated with robots altered far beyond their original design. One such robot, Baranz, was outfitted with heat seeking missiles and a shell formidable enough to withstand a photon blast generated by Kabanda, her mag. Coupled with the sheer attack speed and ferocity of the Sinow class machines, she could not deny that this was a robot army, created to fight some unimaginable force.
The greatest shock by far was the discovery of a third pillar. Surrounded by cameras and other pieces of analytical equipment there was no doubt in Rico'S mind that this thing had been well studied. She had recorded its detail and mailed the data to Calus almost immediately, but would have to wait an almost unbearable length of time before his initial analysis came back. She stared at the small display on her arm.
"Light, darkness, pair, exist, unlimited, rule, seal..."
She knew the words but she could not discern meaning yet. It had also occured to her that the route Calus had given her seemed quite indirect, as if he had planned to lead her there. She had considered questioning Calus at that point however the steady clank of metal feet on stone growing ever louder meant she was not safe until she could get Vol Opt to halt the electronic assailants.
---The Crazy Program---
Some time later Rico had finally arrived outside the monitor room, where Vol Opt's Intelligence was housed. She was disheartened to see the door was protected by a palm reader, she knew that if she could not get authorisation to enter, these mines might very well become a tomb for her. Gingerly she had approached the door, palm extended and was startled when the door opened of its own accord! Was she expected?
Stepping into the monitor room she could see that the name was very appropriate, the walls of the circular room were crammed with banks of monitors, each displaying data or video feed from some remote area of the mines. As she moved further into the room, the door behind her slammed shut and simultaneously all the monitors deactivated, leaving her in near darkness. Instinctively she drew her Kaladbolg and with its faint pink glow guided herself to the nearest terminal. Pressing the keys yielded no response.
"Vol Opt? Can you hear me?"
Silence followed. She called out again and once more received no reply. She was puzzled, this was no power failure, the hum of the computer banks surrounding her was audible enough. She could wait no longer and proceeded towards the door she had entered through. She was stopped in her tracks by an ear-splitting klaxon as red-alert lights lit up along with all the monitors.
"Whats going on?" She shouted, barely able to hear herself over the din.
A reply came in the form of a mechanical whine as, like some kind of obscene lamp, a current generator descended from the ceiling. She recognised it at once, having employed such a device in lab experiments of her own, but this one was probably ten times larger than anything she had seen. She also knew that its purpose was strictly offensive and backed up against the wall.
Directly opposite, the screens flashed up with what could only be the image of the physical form of Vol Opt. The disembodied head of her captor proceeded to "walk" the perimeter of the room, the screens acting like windows until it stopped on her right and then vanished. The generator above then threw bolt after bolt of lightning in her direction. Its aim was crude but despite curling up to minimise damage it still scored a couple of direct hits upon her, the charge rippling across her protective frame before dissipating. She rose to her feet unsteadily, the shock had unsettled her more than caused injury but she had no wish to repeat the experience.
She saw her chance when Vol Opt's face reappeared once more on the displays it had just vacated. Racing over, she slashed away at its image, and it disappeared amid a hail of glass and sparks. Stepping back she caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of her eye and spinning round attacked it again. With these monitors demolished the rest deactivated and Rico hurried over to one side, hunkering down in anticipation of retaliation. She would not wait long as with a low rumble Vol Opt's immense body lowered itself into the room.
Like a giant metallic crab suspended from the ceiling, Vol Opt adjusted its legs and spun around to face her. She stepped up towards the machine, ready to do to its head what she had done to its image mere seconds ago. So concerned was she with her target that she had failed to notice the targetting laser until it was too late. She twisted in an attempt to avoid the incoming blow but the "leg" with which was struck with was so large and fast moving that just the act of brushing against her was enough to floor her. Clutching her shoulder in pain she was only just able to roll out of the way of the other two strikes, each one punching a sizable hole into the floor plating.
She retrieved her sword as Vol Opt rotated to present a different side to her. Weary as to what would happen next, she could only begin to run around the mad machine as panels opened up to reveal missile tubes. The missiles impacted on the wall behind her, in the small confines of the room they could not maneuver and Vol Opt could not turn fast enough to lock-on properly. Even if it could not hurt her now, Rico could not circle it forever and striking the modules as she ran showed that its armour would most definitely outlast her's.
It was when she had nearly stumbled that she had noticed the gap beneath Vol OPt and dived for it. The machine rotated impotently above her, its legs pounding the ground in attempt to frighten her out. She allowed herself a grin at Vol Opt's helplessness, but that had quickly turned to a grimace at the pain her shoulder caused her in the cramped space. Well, she had thought, now it was her turn to inflict pain and with that she plunged her sword upwards into the vunerable circuitry of Vol Opt's underbelly. The hole where the photon blade had entered began to spout flame but she pushed the sword deeper still oblivious to the heat.
It was only when she had heard faint explosions deep within its bowels that Vol Opt retreated back to the safety of its lair above. A door slid open and she rushed out, needing no second invitation. It was only after the door had shut and she had collapsed to the ground in a heap that she had noticed that it was not the door that she had initially entered.
---Revolution to the Origin---
Glancing around at her surroundings she saw she was in a small corridor with the metal wall of the monitor room behind her and an imposing door made of what seemed like stone ahead. The door was covered with characters identical to those found on the three pillars. As she approached this new door she glanced down and spotted cables running between the two ends. She bent over and examined them, one was a power cable but other three were for data. Vol Opt had clearly served some purpose here, maybe to analyse what lay beyond. What did lie beyond? She captured images of the door and sent the data back to Calus.
While closely examining the door, she must have activated it, for it rolled upwards to the sound of stone grinding on stone. Glancing in she saw architecture that could not have possibly been conceived from the mind of anyone on Pioneer 1. Ruins! Ancient ruins buried below the ground! The pillars the last remnants of a forgotten civilisation. But why the secrecy? Why had the government chosen to keep this all hidden away?
Right on cue, the familiar beep of the BEE system had chimed in to interrupt her train of thought. The message brought some more clarity but there was not enough to fully decode it.
"Light, darkness... a pair, no... exist, no exist... unlimited, seal... 'MUUT DITTS POUMN'...?"
The last line defied translation, like some kind of incantation and the mention of a seal, did it refer to these ruins? She knew that going back to the mines was no choice at all, besides the ever deepening mystery was compulsion enough to enter the mysterious ruins.
Making her way through the labyrinthine corridors she had observed that the walls were scarred by photon weapons, most likely military, fights must have taken place everywhere. There were also indications that the army suffered considerable losses in some areas, broken equipment left wherever it had fallen. Soon enough it was her turn to meet the denizens of this place, terrible monsters that attacked without hesitation. Their grotesque appearence and terrifying behaviour befitting of the names she gave them. Taken from myths heard as a child and the insubstantial phantoms of nightmares past, they had become nightmares born in flesh. She realised just what the military had faced and why such a robot army had been amassed in the mines, if these things had ever escaped...
At one point, she had chanced upon a window that looked out and had marvelled at the vast size of the ruins, they stretched on for kilometers inside the hollowed out mountain that formed the rocky sky above. But even that sight paled in comparison to the hole that she found later. It must have been over two hundred metres in diameter, going down into the darkness and rising up to end in sunlight far above her head. Perhaps a blast crater? Was this the source of the explosion that had claimed all the colonists?
She followed the trail blazed by the military before her to the lower levels. Here everything seemed to alive with activity, machinery perform a function she could only guess at. Perhaps it was only working as a result of the power put in through the military's link. She started coming across more examples of the characters and dutifully snapped pictures of them which she sent on to Calus, not knowing if he could still receive them or not.
During this journey she found a set of computers interfaced with one of the cystalline monuments mounted high on a central platform in the middle of a large room. Examination of the computers revealed that they had once housed the third military Intelligence... Olga. Olga was no longer there, in place was one of its subroutines. The program seemed to be trying to communicate with the ruins themselves, a strange activity indeed. She could not see a way to access the data it might have accumulated directly but Calus might. She downloaded a copy from the system and sent it to Calus.
She was about to make her way back down when the reply from Calus arrived back. The message was short but she was relieved to receive anything.
"Light makes darkness, a pair exists, but it doesn't always exist. Reincarnation goes forever. The rule is here. It should be sealed. MUUT DITTS POUMN."
---Cry, for "IDOLA" the Holy---
At the time Rico could not be sure of the meaning but it had felt like something bad. Now... now she had the knowledge but did not know if she wanted it. She rose slowly to her feet, her muscles still sore from the constant exertion. When had been the last time she had slept? Maybe days? With nothing to mark the passage of time there was no way of knowing. The playback of her story in her mind had afforded her a few hours rest but she had a mission, a purpose now.
The idea that these were ruins had given way to the realisation that this was in fact a gigantic spaceship. A ship built to carry something here, buried forever till we came along. The pillars were a warning placed to keep the foolish away, while the monuments of the 'ruins' served to tell a story. Much was missing from the translations provided by Calus but what information was available chilled her to the bone.
An entity by the name of Dark Falz had been imprisoned here, a destructive force that could only be contained not destroyed. The military must have awakened it, the monsters, placed here as guards failed to stop their curiosity. But this creature lacked a body and needed a host in order to achieve its "perfect" form. This was when it was weakest, she was the only one in a position to do something.
Briefly, a wave of anxiety had passed over her. Calus' last message had been to inform her that the subroutine she had sent was attempting to corrupt him and that he would have to shut down to prevent permanant data loss. This had left her alone, necessitating her rest break in order to refocus her mind.
Tapping a key on the panel on her arm flashed up her inventory, but she already knew what the result would be, a couple of Mates and three Cure Status vials. Pick-ups on her travels had been few and far inbetween. The strength and resilience of the monsters here using up her supplies at an alarming rate. Coupled with her fatigue and injuries she knew that it was only a matter of time before she might get overwhelmed. She looked up at Kabanda over her left shoulder. It stared impassively back.
"Sorry buddy, the cupboard is bare."
She felt bad not being able to feed her mag, but they had been through much together and she knew it would understand.
She sidled over to the door and peered through it. The chamber before her was large, but it was divided down the middle by the organic material that lined the walls of the section of the ship. It pulsated like it was alive, no doubt maintained by the tubes of nutrients that snaked the corriors. The room itself was devoid of enemies but that was no comfort. She had learned at great cost that the monsters mostly transported in, alerted by whatever she happened to be fighting at the time.
Her sword comforted her with its glow and its weight in her had felt natural. confidence restored she stepped in and made her way towards the far end, keeping close to the walls to remain unseen. She muttered obscenities under her breath when she caught the now familiar sound of teleporting monsters. She turned to see that a Belra had appeared practically on top of her. The behemoth had barely solidified before it flung its arms out knocking her flying to the ground. She cried out in pain at the force of the blow but found herself unable to get up. The bio-electric charge generated by the lumbering giant played havoc with the circuitry of her frame resulting in almost total paralysis.
She was prepared for such an eventuality, her trembling hands just able to utilise the Cure spray in time, its mist earthing the charge and giving her the mobility to avoid its next swipe. Weapon in hand she maneuvered behind it and proceed to carve great tracts of damage into its back. The belra arched backwards in response to her actions before dissolving into a cloud of black dust.
Rico decided not to hang around any longer and hobbled as fast as she could to the door set against the far wall consuming a Mate as she went. When it opened she saw a transporter, large and set into the floor and ceiling of the small room. She took a step towards it and then hesitated. Where would it lead? She shook her head, this fear was holding her back and going forward could be no worse than going back. With this in mind she stepped in and vanished...
---The Nearest Place to the Heaven---
When she opened her eyes she was confronted by a bright light, it was blinding compared to the dim artificial illumination from the ruins. With one hand to shield her eyes and the other holding her sword out in front of her she edged cautiously forwards. As her eyes adjusted she found herself standing at the mouth of a cave leading out onto a grassy clearing surrounded by low hilly peaks.
She closed her eyes and tilted her face up to the sun, feeling its warmth flow through her like an old friend. With new strength she studied her surroundings, she noted a large black stone obelisk dominating the far side of the clearing and low square stone monuments arranged in two tidy rows to her left and right. Behind her she saw that the cave was not a cave at all but merely an alcove in the face on the hill and more importantly, there was no return transporter. Wherever she was now, she was stuck there. The monolith merited futher inspection and so she made her way towards it.
---Pray, for "IDOLA" the Distorted---
It was almost without warning when the familiar hum of her mag boosting her aura, resounded through the clearing and Rico froze in her tracks, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end.
"He's here, isn't he?" She said out aloud, trying to suppress the fear in her voice.
It took great will power to get her legs moving again. As she approached the monument she could see the faint traces of characters that had once adorned its surface, well worn by countless centuries of wind and rain. Rico had nearly reached it when the ground began to shake, gentle at first and then increasing with violence. It stopped abruptly and Rico was just able to catch a glimpse of a shockwave sweeping towards her before being knocked to the ground.
Standing up she saw that the monument had gone along with the grass, indeed with the exception of her the clearing was empty. Rising from the ground they came, looking alien mines, spiked and spinning, they moved in random patterns but Rico cut them down with ease. With a significant proportion of them defeated the rest 'died' tumbling to the ground and vanishing. This was followed by an organic noise and an almighty roar.
Rico stared at disbelief at the monstrousity before her eyes, it seemed to extend in every direction. A collection of arms, legs, heads and wings, it was the very sum of the ruins creatures. She knew now that they were not guards placed to stop intruders, they were foul children of this dark god.
Rico knew that this was it. This was her moment and it would require something special. With a deft flick of the wrist she activate her inventory and drew out the Red Sword. A prototype given to her by Heathcliff Flowen, she had been relectant to use it even to the end for fear of breaking it. But there would be no second chances here, it was now or never.
Raising the sword high above her head she charged towards it, her body no longer tired but surging with new found energy, building speed with every step.
"Time to die Falz!" she screamed defiantly at the beast.
And then in that final moment she offered up one last prayer, barely louder than a whisper. "Father... Forgive me..."
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: mr_rubbish on 2003-09-29 15:50 ]</font>