Chapter Three

Mines 1

"Yaaaah!" Val shrieked as he ran around in circles. Perri lashed out several times with blasts of Gizonde as Dular led the packs of Gillchics around for Elliot to pick off. "What are these things?! They're alive! They're robots! They're living furniture gone wrong!"

"They're gonna drop me a red box if they know what's good for them, that's what they are!" Perri declared as the machines fell to pices after several blows. A bright red item dropped suddenly from one. "IT'S MINE!" She dropped her attack position and went tearing after it. Valentine quickly recovered and stared at her as she picked it up and cuddled it, cheeks pink and blushing. "Mine, mine, it's all mine!" she cooed. A strange, bulky looking robot dropped down from above and raised a dagger like object.

"Perri! Look out!" Val yelled and hurled the axe at it. The Forcer cried and covered her head as the axe embedded itself into the Sinow Beat's head and short-circuited the machine. "What was that?!" he asked in shock as he ran up and recollected the Golden Axe. Dular and Elliot ran up after the other robots were destroyed and helped her get up.

"That was a Sinow Beat. I don't know exactly why the people of Pioneer 1 would wanted to have built them, or why they have these mines here." Dular remarked, "Well, Perri, are you happy? You nearly got decapitated over a red box!"

"It's my red box." Perrinetta murmured shakily, hugging the item tightly. "TP/Revival."

"From a Gillchic?!" Elliot exclaimed. The girl shook her head.

"It was funky looking. The plate on it said Gillchich." she answered and opened the box. An odd square chip fell into her palm and she plugged it into a slot on her armband. "I'm just wondering if it's normal for those things to drop units for mental abilities."

"Not for our clan, as far as I know." Dular murmured, "Or Elliot's. Don't the Redria boast that they find the best defensive gear?"

"Maybe. Val, did you check the area yet?" Elliot muttered, scratching his head. Val shook his head and set out in search of the next leaf, kicking over bits and pieces of robots to see if a green leaf lay hidden among the debris. "Okay, so while he's doing that, what are we going to do about this place? And Rico? Don't we have any knowledge as to what's going on with everything here?"

"We know that someone is hiding something. It's weird, like the people of Coral are being manipulated to come here. Didn't Zoke say several times before he died for Pioneer 2 to turn back?" Perri asked, "I think there's something really, really wrong with Ragol, and none of the government officials or the military want to let us know about it."

"Rico is missing, the people of Pioneer 1 all disappeared when that explosion went off, the Central Dome is missing a percentage of materials in construction, even the three AIs are involved in this!" Dular sighed, "Remember that one guy who went on that mission with Montague? He said that there were three computer AIs that were sent with Pioneer 1 to Ragol. All three survived, but only two have been found here in this section of Ragol."

"So where's the third?" Elliot asked in confusion. Dular shrugged. "This is too weird. It's a conspiracy!" he declared, "We're all gonna die and we'll never know what killed us!"

"Shut up!" Perri snapped, "We're not gonna die! We're gonna find Rico and she'll tell us what the heck's goin' on and then we'll all get back on the ship and hightail it back to Coral! The planet may be messed up, ecologically speaking, but it sure as heck doesn't have giant monsters that wanna skewer us on their appendages!"

"Perri, what did I say about using big words around Elliot?" Dular sighed and jumped when Val suddenly shrieked. "Val!" The three hunters raced towards the direction of the voice and stopped short of strange red robot that held the little man under one arm. "That thing! It's a Sinow Red! I've heard of those things!" Dular cried, "Valentine! Get away from it!"

"I'm trying! This thing jumped me when I got to the far end of the room!" Val yelled, struggling to get free. The machine faced off against the hunters, who took up fighting stances in preparation for a battle. Instead of launching an attack, the Red merely turned on them and leaped nimbly away, silently signalling a pack of Sinow Blues to drop down and surround the group. "Guys! Help!" Val cried helplessly, reaching out to the hunters as they began to fight off the horde of robots that descended on them, "GUUUUUYS! HEEELLLLP!"

"We'll come for you soon, Val! Hang on and don't give up!" Dular yelled and suddenly fell under as three more Blues closed in on him. Val could only shriek and kick as the Red sped away deeper into the mines.

It was sometime later that Val was finally dumped onto the floor of one room. The Sinow Red stood nearby as a group of men blinked down at him. Val scrambled to get up and rubbed his head, scowling. One Ranger tapped another on the shoulder.

"This is the kid that's been reported to be a Pioneer 1 survivor?" he asked the obviously-in-charge Ranger. The leader shrugged confusedly and studied Val cautiously.

"Hey, kid. Who're you and what are you doing with that bunch of troublemakers in our turf?!" he barked after a moment. Val brushed himself off and glared up at him.

"You the guy who sicced this thing on me?" he asked, jerking a thumb back at the machine that still stood waiting behind him. The ranger waved his hand at it and the robot left the room. "How'd you get that thing under your control anyway?"

"That's none of your concern. Just answer my questions!" the ranger snapped.

"Name's Valentine. I'm here in search of furniture." Val answered shortly, "Where are my friends? Last I saw them, your walking robo-stereo sicced a pack of his pals on them. They'd better be okay, or you'll get it from me!" The group only laughed.

"You threaten us? Members of the powerful Black Paper organization? Don't you know anything about us, kid?" the ranger snickered.

"Why should I be scared of stationary? And don't call me 'kid'!" Val snorted, "Where am I? I demand you take me back to my friends! They need my help!" The ranger grinned knowingly at him.

"My name is L'zac Gerun, and this is the second level of the mines. You're not going anywhere. We have some... tests... for you to undertake." he revealed and the dark smile grew wider as the men around him continued laughing. Val blinked and shrank back as they closed in on him, suddenly feeling very small and wishing for the warm comforts of his home in Animal Crossing.

"Down! Down! Back! Back! Go! Go!" Perri yelled as she whacked her rod down on the last Sinow Blue's head, jamming it and the rest of its packmates down a cramped drainage pipe. Dular winced as Elliot wrapped his arm in bandages. The three hunters had finally destroyed the horde of robots, but not without suffering a few injuries of their own. Pushan hung upside down from a beam in the ceiling as Elliot finished tending to Dular's gashed arm and turned to start on Perri's leg, which suffered from a few cuts and was stained deep crimson.

"Perri, cut that out. You'll clog it up and then we'll have weird gunk backing up on us later on. I know it." Dular sighed and rested his cheek on one fist. Perri ignored him, still jabbing at the piles of parts until the rod finally snapped in two. "Well, now you've broken your weapon."

"I don't care!" she screamed and glared at him, eyes full of angry tears. She was heaving and Rukmin was floating behind Dular, too afraid of Perri's current state to be near her. "That thing's got Val and for all we know it might have turned him inside out and splattered him all over the walls!" Elliot winced and wrapped the white gauze around her left leg a few more times. "We've gotta find him! Fast! Before anything happens to him!"

"In the condition we're in, we're more likely to get killed than Val is." Elliot finally said, finishing up and stepping back to admire his handiwork. "Nice."

"Stop staring at my legs!" Perri yelled at him and shook her fist, not noticing the other assorted bandages the ranger had carefully and easily put on her while she'd been taking out her anger on the Blues. "I may not have my rod, but I have other things to hit you with!"

"Like what?" Elliot teased. The Forcer fumed and pulled off her hat, hurling it at him and then yelping in pain. She held her arm and whimpered. "Dular's right. We have to go back to Pioneer 2 and get healed at the Guild Hospital." he added, scooping up the hat and handing it back to her.

"But what if Val... while we're gone... what if...?" she murmured fearfully, looking up at him, "I'd give up all the reds in my inventory if we could get him back safe and alive."

"Then we'd better get started." Dular replied, standing up and using his sword as a crutch. "Elliot, get your Pushan. Perri, can you pipe us back?" Elliot whistled and the bat flew down to rest on his shoulder, looking drowsy. It had used up two bursts almost consecutively and was worn out. Rukmin looked about the same, staggering through the air to land on Perri's head and yawn.

"Ryuker, coming up." Perri sighed and focused her thoughts on creating a bridge between their current position and the hospital on the ship. A beam of glowing light shone up from an ellipsis on the floor and she opened her eyes. "There." They walked in and headed back to the ship, hurrying as quickly as their battered bodies would allow.

L'zac and the members of one of Black Paper's many small branches discussed what they learned among themselves. They had been baffled, then as the realization of what they were learning from the tests on Val began to dawn on them, the idea of a vast new world of resources and riches began to become more and more appealing. The only problem was their inability to find a way to reach that world. But then again, with the backing of Black Paper's many sources of wealth, the bridge to the strange world from which Val came would soon be open to them.

"How's the kid doing?" L'zac suddenly asked one of his men. The hunter grinned cruelly.

"Not too well, I'm afraid. Our concoctions of truth serums and tests are pretty much wreaking havoc on his system." he reported. L'zac shrugged and swirled a glass of wine in one hand.

"His sacrifice will be for a noble cause. Black Paper will become even more powerful and the Alliance will be unable to stop our movements on Coral and here on Ragol. Although it would be much easier if the agents on Pioneer 1 actually made it to us..." he murmured just as a blast of fire erupted nearby. Rangers, Hunters and Forces all raced to find out what was happening as L'zac leaped up and roared in a fury. "WHO DID THAT?!" he bellowed in rage. Smoke and flames flooded the room as a young man stuck his head in from a hole in the wall. He grinned impishly.

"Heya, guys! Mind if I start a barbecue here?" he asked and hurled another few waves of Foie into the room.

"It's that demon Forcer again!" one Hunter fumed between coughs, fumbling for his daggers, "Mako Tiburon!" The red-clad Forcer waved at them cheerfully from his position at the wall.

"You guys have heard of me?! Cool! I'm a celebrity!" he laughed, "Hey! L'zac! Ya know where my baby sis is?! I promise to roast you quicker if ya tell me!"

"Why would I know anything about your sister?! Do I look like a Force babysitter?!" the ranger snapped back, "Everyone! Let's get out of here before the equipment blows and kills us all! We got what we wanted! Let him die with that kid!" Black Paper Forces began opening pipes all over, escaping through them with dozens of others racing after them. Mako pouted and leaned against the wall, arms behind his head.

"She's actually a Ranger, but she was supposed to be a Forcer like me." he remarked offhandedly to no one. "Oh well. I'll just ask the next bunch I find." He looked around at the mess and raised an eyebrow. He frowned and looked back through the hole in the wall. "Yami, Hikari, Ryoko! Enough with the illusions! They're gone already!" he yelled. A pair of Pians and a Chao flew in and giggled as the illusionary flames faded away. "You enjoyed that far too much. I'm starting to think you three are more pyromanic than me and baby sis put together!" Mako remarked and headed into the next room, "Now come on! The bozos were talking about some kid in here. Let's see if he's okay."

In the next room, the Forcer found a small figure lying on its back on a medical table. The room itself was fairly bare, with a few computers scattered about, displaying information that Mako would look at later on. Next to the table and the small body was a tray of syringes. Mako winced and sighed, rolling his eyes.

"Here we go again." he grumbled, "Stupid underground organizations and their experiments on innocent people... Let's see what they did to you, little dude." He studied the small figure for a second, then yelped. "Yack! That's a nasty mix of serums they used on you! Yami! Hikari! Get over here! I'm gonna need a good boost of strength for this one!" The Pians flew over and floated nearby as Mako lifted Val from the table and held him close. The small figure was pale and trembling.

"M-m-my f-f-friendsss..." he stammered and coughed. The Pians concentrated as Mako closed his eyes and focussed all of his energy on the little figure.

"What was done, make undone. Draw the strength from earth and sun. Purest air, purest sea, give the gift of purity." he muttered as a soft white light shone from his hands and spread over Val completely. "Reverser, bring back the light of life!" The glow burst into a brilliant silver flash that nearly blinded the Chao Mag that wandered into the room, then died away. Mako fell back against the table and grumbled under his breath. "Reverser takes a lot outta a guy. Hey, dude, you better be grateful I saved your life with that technique. My energy's tapped out."

"Huh?" Val blinked in surprise and looked himself over. He felt a lot better than before, when the members of Black Paper started poking and injecting him with strange chemicals. He vaguely remembered what else they had done to him, and decided it was better that he didn't remember. "Uh, thanks. You're not with the stationary guys, are you?" he asked suspiciously. Mako set him on the floor and stretched as Ryoko the Chao fluttered onto his shoulder and scolded him.

"Me? Nah! I'm the Scarlet Tiburon! Scourge of the Underground Alliances!" he replied brightly, "But you can call me Mako. I got rid of those Black Paper dudes a while ago."

"What's with the dress?" Val asked, tugging at the long red gown. Mako frowned.

"It's a sorcerer's gown. NOT a dress. I'm a Fomar, a male human Force user. What are you gonna be, kid?"

"Nothing, if I can help it. I'm not a kid. I'm Val and I'm looking for my friends. We got separated in the first level of the mines and now I don't know where I am." Val replied simply.

"Ah, well. You're in Mines Level 2. Want some help finding your friends? I can go with you if you like." Mako offered, "We'll have to find me a healing rig first, though."

"Yeah, okay. Which way to the first level and a healing whatever?" Val wondered as he recollected his backpack and slung it on. Mako grinned and held up his arm, a holographic map appearing over a black band after he pushed back on the sleeve of his outfit.

"I've got this whole area mapped out. We'll find a rig in this room here, about two rooms to the south." he pointed out and traced a route with his finger, "Then we'll follow this path to the teleporter for Level One and go through that to find your friends." The two of them headed off with the three Mags surrounding Mako, searching first for the healing rig, then the teleporter.

Fully healed and stocked with items, the three hunters ran through the level in search of the Sinow Red that kidnapped Val. Perri attacked a lot more viciously than normal, chasing after a Garanz that had materialized into one room and waving a branch threateningly at it.

"Get back here, you stupid hunk of metal and tell me where your stupid friend took Valentine!" she raged and beat at it after Elliot jumped and quickly fired his newly tekked Ice Beam at it to freeze it in place.

"Perri! You're gonna get yourself killed at that rate!" Dular shouted at her. "And don't break that rod! It was expensive!"

"It's MY Branch of Paku Paku and I'll do whatever I feel like with it! I bought it with MY Photon Drops and Meseta!" she snapped back and resumed beating the now defunct machine, "Tell me where the man is, or I swear to God, I'll turn you into a Technical Crozier and sell you to that idiot Montague!" Dular sighed and looked over at Elliot.

"How far have we gotten through this?" he asked. Elliot checked his map and angled it at him. "Okay, we're about halfway through it. It looks like we'll have to go down that hall over there and it should take us to the central room. Once we hit that, it's only a few more rooms to the teleporter for level two."

"Perri, it's dead now. Why don't you just leave it alone and come along with us?" Elliot asked cautiously. Perri glared at the machine as it fell apart, then snatched up a rolled up piece of carpeting. "What is that?"

"My guess is a Lovely Carpet or something. It belongs to Val. Now, let's find him!" she declared and shoved the carpet into his hands to deal with. Elliot shrugged in confusion at Dular and the two hurried after her.

The room at the end of the hall held an ambush of Sinow Beats and Canadines. Perri's blasts of Zonde techs and Elliots freezing shots kept the machines disabled as Dular cut them down in a few fell swoops from his sword. Beyond that, however, they found the room already swarming with Sinows and Gillchics. They were mostly concentrated in one small area, where explosions of fire were erupting almost constantly.

"Must be another team of hunters." Dular muttered, "Perri! How's Denwark doing with the burst?!"

"Not ready yet! I'll take them all on with this!" the Forcer declared and lashed forward at the group of machines with the branch, a ball of dark violet energy rushing forth and spewing deadly smoke as it shot ahead. "Megid!"

"HEY HEY HEY! I'M WORKIN' HERE!" a male voice hollered, "Are you trying to kill us along with these things?!"

"Who's that?" Dular asked in shock, "And why didn't that blast kill him with those other machines?" Elliot scratched his head, then blinked.

"I show you to the frozen wastes, ice fields as far as you can see!" he yelled out as Perri and Dular stared at him.

"I set the field to burn with my flames of passion, ignited by the spark of life!" the voice yelled back.

"Rise, the figures of humanity, and show the world your light! Rise, the children of the stars, and bring us forth from night!" the two finished together.

"Mako?! What are you doing here?!" Elliot yelled and laughed, running forth as another batch of Sinows fell. Mako stood, slightly smoking from the Megid attack, and grinned at him, holding a black pitchfork in one hand and scratching his head with the other.

"Ah, the usual. Any leads on my baby sis?" he replied, "And what are you doing here, Elliot?"

"No leads on the babe, but my friends and I are looking for a missing member of our party. Have you seen him?" Elliot asked as Dular and Perri joined them. "He looks kinda like a kid."

"Ya mean Val?" Mako remarked in surprise, "Yeah! I just saved his butt from Black Paper! They messed him up pretty bad but Reverser fixed him up. He's right over there." He pointed at the hall he had come in from at the little figure struggling to pry his axe from the remains of a Garanz.

"Val!" Dular called out and Val jerked his head up. Smiling, he ran up to join the group. "Nice to see you back with us, man." the Hunter greeted with a grin.

"C'mon, Elliot, introductions here!" Mako declared, shouldering the pitchfork as the three Mags around him waved cheerfully at Denwark, Bana and Pushan. Elliot laughed and nodded.

"Mako, this is Dular and Perrinetta. Guys, this is Mako, my best friend growing up in the Oran Class Academy." he introduced the three friends. Dular shook his hand.

"Nice to meet you. How goes your hunting?" he asked the red-head, "I've never met a Fomar in person before. Doesn't it feel weird to wear that?"

"You get used to it. I hated the hat, but the hairband's pretty cool. Goes with my short hair. Hunting's okay, I found a few reds here and there. Traded them off for my Demonic Fork here." Mako replied and suddenly reached out and snagged Ryoko before it could grab onto Perri's branch. "No, Ryoko. Stay."

"Hi! My name's Perrinetta, but you can call me Perri or whatever you like!" Perri fairly gushed at the newcomer, pink cheeked and grinning somewhat stupidly, "This is my Mag, Denwark. I find lots of reds, too. My Branch of Paku Paku is my newest one. Does your Mag like it? I hope so." Elliot stared at her in confusion as Mako grinned and chuckled.

"That branch has a smell my Mag likes, but if it grabs on, you'll get a new weapon and owe me a new Mag." he replied, "Better put it away."

"Whatever you say, Mr. Mako Sir!" the smaller Forcer burbled and the branch disappeared into her pack.

"Just Mako. So, you guys are hunting for rare stuff?" the Fomar asked.

"Not really. Val, here, is from another world and he got transported here by accident. He also lost a bunch of items here and we're helping him recollect them. Elliot, hand him that one thing we found." Dular replied. The Ranger scowled momentarily, then pulled out the rolled up carpet. Val cheered as he collected it.

"Yeah! This is the Lovely Carpet! Only a few pieces left!" he declared.

"Ah, 'kay. Need an extra Forcer?" Mako remarked.

"Yeah!" Perri declared.

"Not really." Elliot shot in at the same moment, "Not to be rude or anything, pal, but we've got a full team already." He shot a look at the scowling Perrinetta. "We'd better get moving. Aren't you still scrounging for clues?"

"Ya got a point there." Mako murmured and shrugged, "No skin off my butt. At least let me upload my copy of the Mines map to you so you don't get jumped. The rest of this area and part of the next level are clear, so you guys should be safe until halfway through level two."

"How exactly did you survive Megid?" Dular asked as Mako handed Elliot the small map disc and turned to leave.

"Ever built a house in the middle of a field of Ob Lilies?" Mako replied with a grin, "I built a high resistance with some units and barriers to help. Well, later!" He waved at them as he walked away, the three little Mags floating around him. Dular, Elliot, Perri and Val called their goodbyes, then went on towards the teleporter, happy to meet a new friend and rescue an older one.

Dular noticed peculiarities between Elliot and Perrinetta almost right after they separated from the strange Fomar. The little Forcer was still pink and hummed dreamily as she skipped along in front of the group. Elliot walked along, scowling silently and acting rather grumpy. Val looked between them, then grinned and shook his head.

"You know what's up with them?" Dular asked during one short break. Val nodded and grinned wider. "I take you're not gonna tell me about it." He nodded again. "Figures."

"C'mon, Elliot! I just wanna know if he's got a girlfriend!" Perri whined between bites of her sandwich. Elliot only made a face and bit into his lunch. "Oh you big baby! Dular! Make him tell me if Mako's single!"

"Why not finish your lunch so we can get on with this trip?" the Hunter replied and got up. Perri pouted, but shrugged and handed the rest of her sandwich to Denwark to gobble up. "By the way, Elliot, what was all that about with the poem you two said back there?"

"Something we came up with back in academy." the ranger replied shortly, "He liked fire techs, I liked ice weaps. Opposites attract, I guess, we were friends from the first day we met."

"And the thing about his baby sister?"

"You'll have to ask him about that, I don't know the whole story myself."

"Look! The teleporter's right up ahead!" Val suddenly cried and ran ahead, laughing, "Periwinkle! I'll be home soon enough with your entire set!" That ended the conversation about Mako rather abruptly.


Mines Level 2 was largely quiet, though somewhat smoldering in portions here and there. Val skipped along, whistling cheerfully. With only five pieces of furniture still at large, he was confident that the whole crazy affair would soon be over and he'd be home again. Though he liked his strange new friends, Val was missing the simplicity of Animal Crossing, where the most effort he ever made to get a rare item was move to Animal Island for a week and fish at the strangest hours of the morning for furniture. And the sooner he got back, the better; his robe was becoming more and more tattered with each new area he found himself having to be dragged into for furniture pieces.

"Well, we've made it to the end of the mines and found only pieces of robots lying everywhere." Dular muttered.

"Must've been Black Paper's handiwork, Mako said he didn't go this far with Val." Perri murmured and shrugged, "Well, easier for us! Let's get to the teleporter on the other end of this room and find out where those unmarked passages lead to, guys!" She marched ahead with her friends behind her as they entered a large round room with dozens of monitors on the wall.

The doors sealed themselves shut behind and before them as they got to the other side. Jumping in surprise and quickly preparing for an ambush, the hunters were startled to see a strange object staring out at them from one of the many huge screens. Lights flashed red and sirens blared as the object began to 'float' across the screen to another monitor.

"Dular? What's this thing and is it gonna kill us?" Perri asked, watching the object out of the corner of her eyes as it continued circling them.

"I think that this is that AI that I was talking about earlier." Dular replied as he watched a strange totem come down from the center of the ceiling. "If I recall correctly, this is Vol Opt." A blast of electricity shot down from the totem at them and the hunters jumped aside to avoid the hit. "And yeah, it's trying to kill us!!!"

"Then let's kill IT first!" Elliot declared and began firing at the totem. Perri shook her head and began shooting Foie attacks at the object circling them. Dular and Val hacked away at the smaller totems that would pop up from the floor at random times.

"The red ones! Those seem to hurt it more!" Val yelled after plunging his Golden Axe into a red pillar resulted in an electronic shriek from Vol Opt. With all four hunters attacking at all sides, Vol Opt was soon erupting from the broken monitors into bursts of flames. Perri yelled and leaped back from one set of monitors, covering her head.

"Perri?! Are you okay?!" Dular yelled out as he ran back from the center of the room to rejoin the group of friends. The Forcer looked up at him and grinned shakily.

"Yeah. Never had to fight a whole room of computers before, though." she replied and looked around after the flames died away. "I think we got it." Elliot breathed a sigh of relief and began to put his beam away. Val blinked and moved forward cautiously in search of an item that should have been left behind by the AI. A sudden heavy clunk startled him and he scampered back to the group. The hunters looked up in shock as the ceiling opened again and a huge mechanical monstrosity descended into the central portion of the room.

"I don't think it's done fighting, guys." Val muttered and clutched his axe much more tightly. The hunters took up arms again and began attacking the machine. Vol Opt retaliated by spinning around and firing a strange orb at them.

"Scatter!" Dular yelled and the hunters dashed away in all directions as the orb began tracking one of them down. Elliot huffed and puffed as the orb finally slammed into him. Instantly, a prison of stone rose up and surrounded him. Vol Opt spun again and focused a group of targeting lasers on him.

"Somebody get me outta here!" he yelled, "It won't let me shoot!" Perri dashed by and beat at the cell with the branch. "Hurry!" Elliot wailed, staring in horror at the dozen of tiny red dots lighting up his chest.

"I'm hurrying! The rod's not great at this, y'know!" Perri declared and the stone finally fell. She grabbed his hand and yanked with all her strength, pulling them both onto the floor just as the AI fired its lasers. "Ow!" the Forcer grunted as she landed with the ranger almost on her, "Get off!"

"Too close!" Elliot sighed in relief and sat up, grinning at Perri, "You saved my life! Thanks!" She grinned back.

"What are friends for? C'mon! We've got a crazed computer to crash!" Perri exclaimed and resumed her technique attacks with Denwark and Pushan working together to boost their friends' defense and power.

On the other side of the monstrosity, Dular and Val cut down the healing section of the AI and set to work on the missile silo that threatened to open and hit them at any moment. The targeting beams that danced around the whole group was unnerving, once they understood what it meant.

"Will you just die already?!" Dular yelled in a fury and gave one final swipe of the sword at the large creation. The huge golem finally began to explode and collapse as the friends jumped back and watched it tiredly. After a few short minutes, all that remained of the hulking AI were a few pieces of charred metal and a leaf sitting in the center of the room. Val staggered up and collected it, stuffing it into his backpack

"I don't know about you guys, but I'm beat." he sighed, "I want to call it a day already. How can you stand all this activity?"

"Elliot's five alarm coffee." Perri replied with a smile, jerking her thumb at the ranger, who smiled proudly, "Never fails to get you going for 36 hours straight. Why do you think we haven't stopped to get a full night's sleep in the past day and a half?"

"Well, I want a nice long nap!" Val declared, "And I'm not budging from this room until I get some shut-eye!" The hunters looked at each other in confusion, then shrugged.

"Might as well. Everything's dead in here and the room's kinda warm compared to Pioneer 2's climate controlled housing. I'm feeling a bit sleepy, myself, to be honest." Perri murmured and yawned, stretching her arms and legs before dumping her pack down to use as a pillow.

"I'll set the alarm to go off in a few hours. Get some rest, everyone." Dular yawned out as he plunked numbers into his armband, "I get the feeling that the worst's yet to come."