After escaping from the monstrous yellow eating-machine, overcoming the first lava bridge challenge, losing Viktor and defeating the NG Bruiser and its crew, Gobi, Robert Castell and Bannet Overton (“Tag-along”) make their way down the nearest ladder and encounter something shocking…
22nd of May, 110 P.A.
Unable to advance further without the green key, the heroes are left with no choice but to double back. However, upon leaving the safe zone they discover the former zone has been converted into a luminous blue wire frame and the former hazards removed. Letting out a sigh of relief, they press on down the vacant corridors when suddenly they are alerted by a strange retro-arcade music theme and watch in horror as a large yellow robot is teleported into the chamber and makes quick pursuit.
Opting to flee rather than engaging the great machine, they are able to outdistance it with relative ease. However, after about two minutes of free running through the tunnels, Gobi is presented with the option of “Ending the Simulation” via a holographic touch panel that appears before him, an opportunity he eagerly accepts; transporting them back to their relative position in the labyrinth and into a river of molten lava. Narrowly escaping with their lives, the heroes make it back to a set of railed girders but find that they quickly lose stability and fall into the lava if they dawdle. The troop divided, Viktor Kassadin is stranded and forced to watch as companions come face-to-face with a couple of pilots in an NG Bruiser.
Seeing that Gobi was in possession of three keys, they demanded they hand them over in exchange for their lives. Seeing an opportunity, Gobi attempted to negotiate with them. Offering them their lives in exchange for their service. Believing to be in a superior tactical position, the two men attacked with the Bruiser and showed a clear advantage at the beginning. However, during the skirmish the head of the robot was destroyed and is sensors went offline. Finding themselves quickly overpowered by an invisible Rob and Gobi’s Lemurian Bio-Armor, Bannet realized the robot was on its last legs and radioed through to the pilot Peter, warning him to evacuate as he was activating the self-destruct. However, a lucky blast to the body had disabled the communications system and Peter never received the transmission. Unbeknownst to Bannet, the communications officer initiated the self-destruct and suffered a severe head injury from an ejector seat mishap.
Meanwhile, feeling his other options were depleted, Viktor ran the gauntlet, leaping from platform to platform with astounding success, until on the final platform he stumbled and fell into the lava. Still charged from an enigmatic pill he had recovered earlier while fleeing the yellow eating machine, his death was horrific but painless.
Gobi and Rob watched Viktor perish, feeling that they were not in a position to help him before turning their attention back to Bannet and learning that with his friend dead and his current condition he was more than happy to go with the flow and do whatever they say.
After taking a moment to grieve and recover from their recent battle, Gobi, Rob and Bannet make their way down the ladder at the end of the corridor and encounter two of Bannet’s other companions, Spray-and-wipe and Viktor. Baffled for a moment, Gobi tried to dig up some more information on how it is possible Viktor is alive when not five minutes earlier they witnessed him burning alive in molten lava. However, Viktor claims to have memories of the last 48 hours and refuses to give any credence to Gobi’s claims. Instead, explaining that he regained consciousness a couple of days ago with Spray-and-wipe and had assumed that Gobi had left him somewhere after being rendered unconscious by the embryonic ooze in the Drone Control Chamber. After some quick discussion, it is revealed that Spray-and-wipe has memory of events preceding Viktor’s that conflict with them but after trying for a moment to piece together events his M.O.M. implant malfunctions, triggering a nose bleed. Uninterested in exploring their memories ant further at this time, Spray-and-wipe insist on heading downstairs to deal with a crew of pyromaniac lunatics that they’ve been fighting on and off with over the last couple of days. Questions unanswered, but silent, Gobi watched as the crew made their way further downstairs where they encountered a number of mines and a couple of thugs with Molotov cocktails and BigBore Shotguns waiting for them. Utilizing invisibility once more, Rob leaped over the mines and landed silently then advanced on the foes while Gobi held their attention with shouting from the room above. Distracted, the two disturbingly identical men were were dispatched almost instantly, with Rob slamming one into another with the same force as a speeding train. Wrapping himself in their lavender jacket he noticed two sticks of dynamite land within close proximity and did his best in the limited time available to shield himself from the blast. However, even the tremendous explosion from two sticks of dynamite lacked enough kick to inflict any lasting lethal injury to the superhuman Sea Titan. Throwing himself through the roiling black smoke and down another nearby shaft, Rob was able to take out another combatant on his way down.
Meanwhile, Viktor sniped out the mines allowing Spray-and-wipe to liberate some dynamite from the two men Rob had dispatched not moments before. Emerging from the shaft, Spray-and-wipe comes to blow with the punk that Rob had missed on the ladder on his way down but he was quickly dispatched. While back down stairs Rob was caught off-guard by a large man in black calling himself “Blaster” who was able to keep the invisible foe off his feet and hit him with two Molotov cocktails. His clothes burned away once again and his body wracked by the agony of the flames, Rob’s invisibility remained but was neutralized by the rolling fire engulfing him. Still, undeterred, he closed on him and lashed out at Blaster with flurries of unarmed strikes. However, the leather-clad pyro-punk’s reflexes were vastly superior to the Sea Titan and he was easily able to avoid him and back it back to the ladder. Escaping combat with the flaming Rob, Blaster emerged to check on his gang but found himself face to face with Spray-and-wipe. The two augmented soldiers traded blows, with Blaster attempting to force Spray-and-wipe back over a nearby ledge into a second chasm filled with molten lava. However, the nimble Crazy was able to leap over his shoulders and throw him momentarily off his feet. An opportunity too perfect for Viktor to pass up, with Blaster’s head dead in his Scope the former Arlington Scout shot Blaster in the back of the head, killing him instantly.
Recovering Blaster’s long black leather coat, Spray-and-wipe was about to don it for himself when he was interrupted by Rob, who complained that the purple armored long coat that he had recovered from one of the twins was falling apart and he wanted the black one. Reluctantly, the Crazy handed the coat over and Rob offered him the purple one in exchange. However, Spray-and-wipe was offended by this and refused to take it. Viktor however, ever the opportunist snatched it up for himself without a moment’s hesitation.
With all immediate threats eliminated, Spray-and-wipe relived himself on the fire downstairs while everyone sat around waiting for the massive petrol and coal fires to subside. Eventually, they would investigate a locked Blue Safe room that they found nearby but opted not to enter for fear it would lock and force them to progress further in a direction they had not planned on. After a couple of hours, they made their way down and had a look around, discovering a room locked with a yellow key. However, instead of choosing any of the two clear paths, the heroes decided to head west across another gulf of lava. Although, a keen observation from Rob and some experimenting quickly revealed that the six vents served as warp pipes to other parts of the room. After some quick experimentation using some of Spray-and-wipes rubber bouncy balls, they discovered the shaft that lead to the safest part of the room and Rob climbed in. However, about half way up when the temporal distortion occurred and gravity shifted, Rob lost grip and fell out of the shaft, narrowly grabbing the pipe at the last moment with both of his legs being submerged in the lava below up to the knees. Screaming out in agony, Spray-and-wipe was quick to respond and scurried up after him. Fortunately, the superhuman reflexes and agility made possible through his Mind Over Matter Augmentation allowed Spray-and-wipe to much more easily navigate the shaft, then time his landing and within six seconds Rob was pulled back to safety. There he would wait while his natural bio-regeneration mended the damage to his legs. However, Spray-and-wipe’s impulsive nature as a Crazy forced him to press on and he gracefully made his way up the pipes to an overhead ladder. Pulling himself up and investigating the room above, he discovered a man-sized plush Racoon doll, which he eagerly hugged before making his way back down.
Viktor, Gobi and Tag-along held back, as Gobi didn’t want to share Rob’s fate and Viktor thought it’d be unwise to leave them alone in case danger arose. Following Rob’s recovery, Rob and Spray-and-wipe made their way up and investigated the walls discovering cracks. Destroying them with his otherworldly strength, Rob discovered a C10-Energy Rifle, three E-Clips and a third lava-challenge room guarded by a burly Titan Juicer wearing a gimp mask, suit pants, and a tie and two attractive female assistants with ensembles reminiscent of cheap strippers; with one dressed as a naughty-cop and the other a naught nurse. A safe distance from them, the two heroes continued their ascent and found a door locked by the red key leading to the right. Striking up some conversation with the muscle bound lug, they determined that he was selling life insurance. Then, after some convinced him, talked him (“Clinton Cherye”) into making his way back down to Gobi who was a wealthy politician and interested in striking a deal.
However, after maneuvering his way back, reciting his pitch and handing over a paper with chicken scratch lunacy on it, Gobi realized that Clinton was every bit as insane as most everybody else in this labyrinth. So, tried conning him using his psychic abilities to read his mind and convincing him that he had already signed the contract and that Clinton had failed to meet his end of the contract. Confused to the point of anger, Clinton used his own merge psychic abilities to plumb the depths of his psyche but could find no evidence of Gobi’s claims and became incredibly agitated. Realizing the situation was turning sour, Viktor who had taken up point behind the Titan Juicer using the Naruni Camouflage system in his armor fired at the back of Clinton’s head. However, Clinton somehow impossibly anticipated this and was able move his head at the last moment so the blast careened into the chest of Gobi’s bio-armor. Outraged, Clinton announced “A good business man doesn’t let an opportunity slip him by” and hurled Gobi across the room into a molten lava pit. His worldly senses dulled momentarily from his psychic endeavors, Gobi reached up to grab hold of one of the pipes just as Rob had but found himself overwhelmed by the squealing psychic agony of his armored symbiote.
Leaping back and out of his way, Viktor raised his rifle once more and took aim at the hulking business tycoon but he moved too quickly and was able to snag Tag-along as a hostage. Respecting his cunning and unwilling to fire on a companion, Viktor lowered his firearm and allowed Clinton to withdraw back along the rails back to where he came. Meanwhile, in the lava below, Gobi was finally able to pull himself up onto one of the pipes and out of the lava. However, his bio-armor had suffered severe damage and large potions of his coral shell is growing back without any color…