Brain Drain and her little gooey green friend are no more and only one key remains, but what other secrets does this diabolic maze yet have to reveal?
24th of May, 110 P.A.
Emerging from the security of the White Chamber, the heroes discover their path has once again changed; replaced by a whirling dervish of twirling lights and neon tubes. Speculating that the space is only differing in visual appearance, just as their previous encounter with a similar shift earlier, Gobi suggested heading back the way they came, westward. Then ushered Tag-along forward. However, they were surprised when they found that it was not a massive mechanical eating machine that appeared, but a holographic counter. Realizing their situation had changed and the heroes only had 59:00 seconds to act, chaos broke out and the majority of the troop opted to advance northward.
Dashing as quickly as they can through the neon labyrinthine corridors, the heroes mad dash would come to an end when their counter reached zero while standing before a shimmering emerald force field, which would moments later be revealed as a door requiring a green key for passage. Realizing they were lost and lost in a room of voluminous smoke, the troop bickered among themselves for a moment and then snapped into action rescuing their companions and getting them to safety before they pass out.
Safe on a platform below away from the troop, the group took a moment to reaccess their situation, as they appeared trapped. Viktor Kassadin, relying on his trusty grappling hook took several shots in the dark and found portions of the room where incredibly high but was unable to catch anything to climb to investigate. Meanwhile, Rob spotted some boxes at the far end of a corridor and went to investigate. Moving one of the boxes, he found a man in leather riding gear, who recoiled in fear. Flashing back to his rape by the former Customer Service Director of Northern Gun and his Slurmph concubines, Rob was overcome with a mad irrational rage and attempted to swing the box at the cowering man in an effort to kill him. However, in his rage he clumsily smashed the box on the short-ceiling above them causing its contents (including a ship’s anchor from the S.S. Batros) to spill out on top of him and pin him for a moment. Given a moment to think about his actions and given a somewhat cooler head by the words of his childhood friend and rival Gobi, Robert took the anchor for himself and dived out some of the remaining gear and ammunition, then decided to leave.
Taking this opportunity, Gobi spoke with the man (who revealed his name was Garry Gibson) and offered him an opportunity to join their motley crew. However, Garry refused, cowering and stating that he just wanted to hide and be left alone. Pressing the matter slightly with little result, the troop decided that they would raid the crates and leave him alone. Although, while doing so they were also able to learn the name of the man in the green room above them was Burt and “He was a total pyro” and “Tristian’s main flunky”.
Meanwhile, Rob was investigating the smokey room and happened upon a warp-shaft. Curious about its destination and lacking the patience to test it properly, Rob pulls himself into the shaft and finds himself falling down towards a pit of bubbling lava. Acting quickly, Rob used the deactivated plasma whip to snag a nearby hook and chain hanging on a wall by the exit shaft. Hanging above the lava, he noticed a deadly array of Vibro-Blades on the wall beside him. His only alternate path was beneath him, ever-so slightly over the lava-pit, was a sky blue seesaw.
Back at the platform beneath the smoke room, the group heatedly debated as to whether or not they should follow Robert. Although Gobi would eventually convince them that Rob is invincible and it would only be a matter of time before he made his way back to them. So instead, they opted to wait.
Letting go of the whip, Rob dropped down onto the seesaw with all the grace of a sack of potatoes, and was winded. Recovering momentarily, he looked up and saw a dull metallic canister with two crude robot legs which jumped onto the other end of the seesaw and sent him hurtling into the roof above, then falling back to the seesaw once more. It was yet another trap and if Rob did not move or do something, it would be an endless cycle that eventually leave him little more than a bloody sack of broken bones. Overcoming his instincts and fears, Rob intentionally took a terrible fall, something that would have broken the collar bone of any mortal man and then spring-boarded off seesaw past the leaping robot. Examining it for a moment, he determined it was not directly hostile and was merely responding to stimulus as per programming, so he turned the robot around so it was no longer facing the spring board and made his way down a nearby ladder.
In the room below, Rob found himself jeered at by two middle aged bearded punks in green shirts. Returning their taunts, he provoked one of the attackers into leaping at him, delivering a solid kick the side of Rob’s face and sending him tumbling from the ladder onto a mine below. With a massive explosion, Gobi and Spray&wipe superhuman hearing alerted them to a scuffle above, and Gobi took a moment to inform everyone that Rob was back as he had said he would be. A fact that was reinforced by the broken and bloody corpse of punk pushing through the smokey veil above them and turning into street pizza on the solid steel floor before them.
Hearing the scuffle above and seeing the body, Viktor calls out to Rob and tosses his grappling hook one last time. This time Robert catches it and ties it off and Spray&wipe makes a rapid assent to assist him. Although by the time he arrives, Rob, the bloody silhouette of Rob is standing over the corpses of his enemies and seems more concerned with ripping the nano-spikes from his body than any threat his opponents may have offered. Blinking twice in surprise, the Crazy rappelled back down to the level below and then stood around bouncing a small rubber ball off the wall while he waited for his companions to ascend the rope. Despite its great height, Viktor’s ropework was such that the accent was made with relative ease and working together, Rob was able to pull the characters up with his incredible superhuman strength while Spray&wipe ran damage control on anyone who fell and Viktor anchored the rope securely.
Soon all of the troop were in the room above, except Viktor who was kneeling down untying the rope when Garry came up from behind him and threw a leather strap around his throat and then pinned him to the ground and started strangling the life out of him. Caught off guard, Viktor was helpless for a moment as Garry pleaded with the Quickflex, explaining that he just wanted to be left alone and they were making him do this. Acting fast, Spray&wipe who heard the scuffle below, hooked the rope around one foot and slid down emerging from the smoke. However, the scene he found was not at all what he expected to find. Viktor’s alien physiology, had allowed him to dislocate his shoulder and raise the barrel of his assault rifle to Garry’s leg. Struggling for breath, the lightning fast D-Bee pulled the trigger faster than the Crazy could blink and Garry’s leg came off like so much hot playdoe. Trembling from shock and blood loss, Garry was thrown back to the ground, convulsed and then passed. Picking himself up off the ground and popping his shoulder back into its joint, Viktor nodded at Spray&wipe and thanked him for his fast response. Spray&wipe, laughed and told him it was nothing, then acceded the rope once more to join his companions above. Moments later, he would be joined by Viktor and the rope recovered and safely coiled before making their way up the ladder.
On the level above, the troop was once again slowed by a disagreement of which direction to advance. Gobi wanted to return westward, but Rob was adamant about advancing east. Heeding Gobi, albeit reluctantly, Rob opted to do nothing while allowing Viktor an opportunity to rush back westward over a number of dropping platforms hanging over a lava field, everyone even Viktor himself who had only heard the story were filled with a terrible sense of dread and déjà vu, although no one expressed such concerns aloud. Making sure his Naruni armor was secure, the Quickflex used the grates above the lava to money bar his way across without making contact with any of the plates, making it safely to the end and getting approximations on the distance required. It was a massive relief, although his return would not be so blessed.
About half way back, Viktor slipped and fell. Although he was able to overcome his terror as he tumbled towards the lava below and despite the fact his reflexes were superhuman, he was unable to catch hold of the red platform beneath him and he fell direction into the lava. His computer systems going crazy and shorting out and the heat pushing through the thin alien nano-weave like a thousand angry ants, Viktor threw himself up in one last action of desperation and was able to grab hold of the platform and pull himself to safely, at least for the moment. Feeling the platform trembling beneath him, Viktor knew that he didn’t have time to hesitate so he made a leap of faith for the grates above, but in his haste he was unable to secure a grip and fell once more into the lava below. His Naruni Camouflage Armor glistening like some sort of frenzied alien chameleon, Viktor once more made a lunge for the trembling platform and was able pull himself to safety and leap again, but to no avail. Panic setting in and the environmental protection of his armor taxed beyond its limits, Viktor pulled himself to the platform one last time and then made a mad and desperate dash for the next platform, landing safely as just seconds later the first he had used to pull himself to freedom fell from its place and tumbled into the lava below. Racing forward with superhuman speed, Viktor weaved and dived to get back to the troop.
Meanwhile back at the troop, Gobi had ordered Tyrintino to use his psychic powers to aid Viktor, a cause the psychic felt would be too much of a strain on his own psychic reserves but something he agreed too. However, unable to focus and his mind scattered due to the accusations of treachery, the master psychic was unable to slow the Quickflex’s fall, something that created great tensions as Viktor narrowly avoided death time and time again. Bitter and panicked, Tyintino attempted to shield himself from the condemnation in the words of his new companions and his own failures, but even this failed, allowing those watching the man to realize just how deep the former crime bosses psychological damage truly is.
Unwilling to risk to lava, Gobi entered a state of deep introspection as he stared westward. Although no one had time to pity the politician, as they were far more concerned with their advance eastward. “No more sitting around,” barked Rob hastily making his way back up and onto the grated ceiling above. Seeing his accent, the troop ordered Mercedes up the rope. Wanting to impress Gobi and snap him out of his wistful stupor, the attractive young woman acceded the rope like an expert magicians assistant, but only made it about 40 feet while climbing the gridded ceiling, before her fear overcame her, she looked down and slipped, falling into the molten lava below and burning up like some sort of horrifying living candle. Undeterred, the troop ordered Tag-along to do the same, but he too shared a similar fate, falling but 30 feet along the gridded ceiling and onto an array of Vibro-Spikes and then into the lava below. Natasha was next, but having watched his new friend and companion Tag-along roast alive like a pig on a spik, Viktor stopped Natasha and discussion for another possible way to cross began — all the while Gobi fixated on their previous destination and silent.
Without batting an eyelid, Robert continued his climb over the room and spotted a teenage Chinese girl in a tight green dress and red knuckle gloves and he too was spotted. Altering her unseen companions the Chinese girl adjusted her stance and held her position as Rob destroyed a secret compartment in a small box-room above them and recovered a number of supplies, including weaponry and a ominous suit of bone armor.
He would soon be joined by the super athletic Spray&wipe, whose appearance seemed to shock and distress the young woman and her two companions. Discussion began but tensions ran high. The girl revealed that she had seen Spray&wipe die and asked if his appearance here was some sort of “sick joke”. A sentiment seemingly shared by both her companions, a 28-year old man with messy brown hair, headphones and urban warrior armor and a broad shoulder Spaniard in the battered remains of Naruni body armor. Dispatching the foe they were fighting with a blast from their leaders Naruni energy pistol. The leader introduced himself as Hank Douglas and took great interested in their keys.
It was at this point, that Spray&wipe noticed that the three strangers each had a hollow or “invisible” key icon floating above their heads. Questioning persisted, although tensions were high. During the talks, Spray&wipe expressed that he didn’t believe he was alive and considered himself to be constructed entirely out of nano-machines. This failed to surprise them, although his theories were not substantiated or given much attention. Their entire attention was focused entirely on the acquisition of the troops keys. Explaining that they were all former players who the woman had failed to kill when she took over and reset the game midstream. Stating that they had been occupying the zone since 107 P.A. and were seeking a way for Hank to escape back to his time so he could petition The Book of Heroes for aid in undoing the horrors they had seen there before they had ever occurred. Implying that they were willing to do whatever it took, no matter how horrifying, to gain their freedom and also implying they had much more knowledge of the inner-workings of the system than anyone the troop had encountered to date.
Unwilling to waste more time discussing matters with Spray&wipe, Hank gave a signal to the Chinese girl who, cloaked in magical energies, rushes up along the walls, back across the battlefield and landed before the troop. Still suffering from his psychic trauma, Tyrintino crawled back against the wall and cowered, exclaiming “Its her!”. Equally frightened, Natasha stumbled back away from the girl and Viktor took point in front of her. Calmly and without fear or hesitation, the Chinese girl told them to hand over their keys and nobody would be hurt. However, Gobi was unresponsive until Viktor jolted him back to reality by placing his hand on his shoulder and sympathizing with his shell-shock, before quickly reminding him he will have more time for it later. Again, the Chinese girl demanded Gobi hand over the keys. Although, this time he met her gaze and declined her demands. Preparing to further explain matters. However, the girl moved too swiftly and before he could form the first syllable she was upon him. Disarming Viktor, she was able to avoid a number of the close-range bursts from his assault rifle with the same grace and ease she avoided the hail of razor sharp coral from Gobi’s bio-armor. However, a solid blow from Gobi’s coral blade was able to send her tumbling back with such force that she broke her arm. Seriously injured the girl fought on, inflicting considerable damage to Gobi’s bio-armor, she was once again knocked to the ground by the Bio-armors incredible weight and hit the ground with such force that she broke her second arm and found her spell-casting and mystic martial arts severely impeded. Trading blows with the two warriors for another 15-30 seconds, the girl realized she was in too much pain to continue and had been overpowered. Acknowledging that the troop are the most powerful players in the game she had yet encountered in Chinese and cussing under her breath, the girl retreated and vanished into a warp-pipe.