From somewhere, a transmission…
His panicked fingers typed wildly at the keyboard, desperately trying to make a connection. He had been locked in this bland, featureless room for days now. Maybe. With no windows or clocks, it was impossible to tell. The computer couldn't even give him a straight answer, not having a clock or calendar installed. He had to jerry-rig up an instant messenger algorithm for any hope at all of contacting the outside world; assuming the connection on the heap of junk hadn't crumbled to dust.
Connecting to network, the blank, black screen displayed. He crossed his fingers, his eyes glued to the pixels, waiting for that little cursor flashing constantly to print out some good news. He was hungry, and thirsty, and this place didn't even have a bathroom…he had a lot of problems on his plate. This computer was his only shot.
Logged on, it displayed – thank Heaven! The line was immediately followed with Executing chat algorithm… He gave one heavy sigh of relief. His rapidly beating heart began to slow, and his shaking hands began to calm themselves.
"Sue? Are you there?" he spoke as he typed, naturally not expecting a verbal reply, but he felt that talking to himself calmed his nerves when he got into the worst of it. He misspelled 'there' once, and he hit the spacebar one too many times; he was having a difficult time keeping himself under control. "It's me. Kazuma!" He shouted his name, as if Sue would be able to hear him.
"I've managed to get away somehow," he continued, his fingers a blur in front of his own face, his mouth parched. "But I've gotten lost…I've found a shelter, but there's nothing here." He glanced around the room as he reflected that message. Nope, still nothing. A computer, a desk, a door that was locked shut…and his teleporter. He couldn't use it to leave, however; it was coordinated back to the Plantation, and he had only just escaped from there. He couldn't risk going back.
"If you can hear me", he wrote, knowing that there was no way Sue could 'hear' him, "please answer!" He wasn't prepared to entertain the possibility that Sue wasn't at her computer, and that he would have to keep waiting for…who knows how much longer now. It was officially out of his hands. "…please?"
He was standing in the middle of a dark, cold, damp room, awake for only about a minute now. He had no idea how long he was asleep, or what he was doing, or…wait, what was he doing? He had a nagging feeling that it was important, but as for names, faces, locations, scenarios…he was drawing a total blank. No idea whatsoever. He couldn't even remember his own name. Should he be worried? Was something going on? How did he get into this room?
He checked himself over for injuries. Any hurt joints or broken bones? He flexed his arms and legs, and rotated his wrists and ankles. Nothing seems too badly injured…a little stiff, maybe, but nothing he can't walk off. He rolled his head on his shoulders, feeling some resistance around his neck. He brought his hands up to remove whatever was coiled around his neck – a plain, red scarf with no obvious defining features. How did he get this? Was it a gift? Well, all the same, he seemed to be just fine, physically. He wrapped the scarf back around his neck gently. Now, if only he had any idea of where or who he was.
He glanced down his body, getting a good look at his clothes: maybe they'd help spark his memory. A featureless, black tank-top, a pair of obnoxiously-bright-red pants held up with a plain black belt with a golden buckle, and a pair of sturdy, black hiking boots. Nope, still no idea who he was. He didn't even know if he had any sense of fashion or not.
He ran his fingers through his hair, knocking over the hat that he hadn't realized he was wearing. It made a soft 'flump' behind him as it hit the ground; he turned over to pick it up, giving it a look. A regular, red cap that, like the rest of his costume, had no obvious feature to it, except for a peculiar solid-white slate adorning the front, containing a curly, fancy script in red. Was this some kind of emblem? Is this message important? Ugh, so many questions, and not a single answer…
He had examined his clothes, but he still hadn't anything definite about his identity. Maybe the room he was in had something it could tell him? Taking a good look around, the first thing he noticed was that the walls were all made of stone. Uncut, unprocessed stone. So, maybe he was underground? In a cave of some kind? There was a very dim light leaking in through a small crack in the ceiling above him, provided just barely enough light for him to make out where he was.
He seemed to be on a raised platform of some kind, roughly in the centre of the room. He carefully slid off the side of the platform – he felt like he was just getting used to this body, so he didn't know how well he could take a fall.
He hadn't been paying attention to where he was falling, and as a result, he was quickly and totally submerged in water. Just a small wading puddle, really, but it still brought his head under, and sucked all the oxygen out of his system in his surprise. He sunk like a stone in the water, hitting the floor shortly after being dunked. He scrambled to his feet and desperately began reaching for the surface of the water, breaching it quickly and filling his mouth with air. If he was feeling sleepy before just then, he was certainly wide awake now.
He pulled himself out of the small pool and onto its tiny shore easily, jumping back onto the central platform – and then immediately doubled back once his feet hit the platform safely. Did he just jump five feet straight up into the air? And that was just a little hop! Is this normal? How high could he jump if he really needed to?
Well, so far, he'd come up with about fifteen questions, and not a single one of them answered. This was a little irritating. Glancing around the room once more, he immediately thought of another: how was he supposed to get out? He obviously came in somehow, so there's got to be a way out as well, right?
His answer was above him, surprisingly: a simple wooden door placed on an alcove above the platform he was standing on, light creeping in through its opening just above the stone floor. It looked a little high up – maybe a dozen feet or more? That was definitely a little higher up than a normal person should be able to just casually leap. So, then, was this room…a coffin? A grave? A prison, maybe? After all, he shouldn't be able to make that jump by himself…
There was a small ledge just a little bit higher than the platform in front of him that could maybe give him the height boost he needed to make it to that door. It's worth a try; staying in this room wouldn't get him any more answers, and he couldn't handle any more questions than he had.
He backed himself to the opposite edge of the platform, to give himself plenty of running space. His eyes firmly on the ledge he wanted to jump to, he gave himself a sprinting start, and leaped off the end of the platform with all his might. He cleared the ledge easily, soaring much higher than he had anticipated, and wound up colliding with the wall above it.
He landed without any grace back onto the ledge. Undeterred – he felt little pain from the impact, managing to block his face with his arms and brace his limbs – he took another leap, this time aiming for the alcove with the door, minding his own unknown jumping prowess. This time he managed to not hit anything, although he still tripped and fell when he made his landing; he'll have to work on that.
Pulling himself to his feet and dusting off his clothes, he reached for the brass knob on the door and gave it a gentle twist. A quiet click rang from the door, and with a push, he was finally out of the room. He was expecting some sunlight and some fresh air; heck, he was hoping for someone to give him some answers to be waiting on the other side. A little optimism never hurt.
What greeted him instead were more caves, stretching to either side of him as far as he could see. Nobody waiting for him, no sunlight – just a few lit torches lining the walls – and, most disappointingly, no answers. Plenty of questions, though.
To his left, the caves seem to simply stop, albeit unnaturally; a large patchwork wall was blocking his path. It looked a little frail, however; covered in moss and cobwebs, and with little structure or support, as though it was only thrown up as an afterthought. Perhaps someone really was trying to keep him prisoner here? He tried tearing a piece of the wall down with his hands, but found that he couldn't get a grip on any piece of the wall; most pieces of wood or stone were just too large to wrap his hands around. Well…without any tools to help dismantle or destroy the wall, his captors were winning this fight.
Behind him, the cave proceeded downward, and he couldn't tell just how far downward from where he was standing. A decent way down, at least…he could hear the soft sound of flapping wings off in the distance, echoing off the cave's infinite walls. The cave just seemed to spiral downwards, refusing to give him a clear answer as to how far down it was and how long he'd have to walk until he'd find something new again. But still, it was either follow this stretch of cave down for however far it went, or go back into the room he started in. It wasn't much of a choice.
The cave's floor had very uneven footing, but thanks to his thick, strong boots, he found his grip to be rather sturdy and he didn't slip or trip at all as he walked down the steep incline. Bats dotted the ceiling in sparse groups, minding their own business as he walked slowly, silently under their colonies, taking in as much information about his surroundings as he could. He hoped he could eventually find something that would help him out, like a sign, or a message, or anything.
The cave wrapped underneath itself as he continued forward, drawing him farther into its pits. He eventually found another pool of water waiting for him, supplied by a steady drip from the ceiling. That was just great; as far as he knew, the ceiling could collapse at any moment, crushing him under the weight of tons of stone and dirt. He couldn't turn around, however, knowing that there was nothing waiting for him if he did; he forced himself forward, wading up to his knees in the water as he pressed on.
There was an end to this cave, and it was in sight after only a short trek. At first he felt all his hopes begin to waver, until he could see a carving in the stone wall, proving that someone was at here at least at one point. The carving was less than welcoming, however: a tiger's head, maw agape with all of its finely-chiselled teeth all on display, welcoming anyone who would willingly walk down its throat. The head had a surprising amount of detail on it: the nose, the eyes, the ears, even the fur was taken into account as they were carved out of the stone. He thought it was very impressive as he walked himself into the tiger's mouth.
It was a very brisk walk from the tiger's teeth to the tiger's stomach, but what brightened up his mood immediately was that there was someone else in there. A man! Maybe he could give him some answers! Maybe he could tell him who he was, or what he should be doing!
As he approached the man, however, he noticed that the man hung his head in a particular way, as he sat in his chair with his arm slung over the back. Was…was he dead? He approached the man, looking to see if the man had indeed passed on. No, he could see his chest rising and falling – and he could hear the loud, reverberating noise from his nose with every inward breath. The guy was just asleep, not dead. That was a relief, at least.
He tried everything he could to wake the man up – he clapped his hands, he stamped his feet, he tried poking and shaking the man – but nothing was working. The man could have slept through a stampede. That was really rather irritating; the one chance he had to ask some questions, and the guy was asleep. He sighed; the man didn't look familiar to him anyway, and from the looks of his 'house', he hadn't been away from the place for ages. There was a chance he was just intruding on some bum's living space.
Well, this was certainly a bust. He walked all this way, hoping to find something, anything, that could help him with who he was, and he turned up nothing. There was nothing between this room and the room he woke up in, either.
Although…if this guy had really been sleeping down here for as long as he guessed, then he's got to have something that would help him navigate the caves, right? Maybe some kind of weapon to help him hunt for food? He imagined that eating bats constantly would get dull after a while, but food was food, and he had to get it somehow.
He took a look around the room, looking for something that the guy could have used for something like that. He owned a table, the chair he was sleeping in…and a chest in the corner. An unspectacular chest that sort of blended into its surroundings, with its key sticking out of its hole. If he was going to hide something valuable, he reasoned, it'd be in something secure, like a vault, or a chest. So, hopefully there was something in there that he could use.
He walked to the small chest and knelt down, placing his hands on either end of the lid, and lifted it open. In it was a pistol: a very peculiar-looking pistol, with a wooden grip and no cylinder for bullets. Unlike the desk or the chair or the chest, though, the pistol looked well polished and clean as a whistle, like it was the man's most prized possession. But why would he favour a pistol so heavily if it didn't even have a cylinder to load?
Kazuma had been sitting at his computer for hours now, constantly refreshing his connection to the network in a mad attempt to connect to Sue, after realizing that just because he was connected to the network, he wasn't necessarily connected to her. Searching for user "Sue"… blinked on the screen, preceded by eleven lines saying the exact same thing, only to end with No users found. He was beginning to grow desperate.
Knowing that the chances on his twelfth attempt were no better, he tried again anyway, hoping, practically praying for Sue to just log on and give him some help. He bit the nail on his thumb nervously, his right heel thumping on the ground in anticipation. "Come on, come on," he whispered to himself, his eyes scanning the computer screen frantically for any change at all.
Finally, another line printed on the screen, one that broke the pattern: 1 user "Sue" found. Kazuma nearly leaped straight out of his chair in delight, shouting 'yes!' and pumping his fists to the sky in triumph. He quickly sat himself back down and began blitzing his fingers across the keyboard.
"Sue! Please respond!" he typed, yelling the same thing desperately. "They're looking for you…" Judging from Sue's lack of replies, he could only assume the worst: that she was away from her keyboard. "Are you asleep?" he asked densely, as if he expected a reply if she were. "Your brother is so lonely…"
Just out of curiosity, he pointed the barrel of the pistol back out the throat of the tiger's stomach, and pulled the trigger. He didn't really expect anything to come out – unless the gun had a single bullet loaded into its barrel, it couldn't possibly carry any sort of ammunition in it.
The moment he pulled the trigger, however, a single beam of light flung from the pistol and seemed to simply phase out after a few yards in front of him. The light came out with a 'thwip' noise, as if the gun was shooting air instead of something else entirely. That was certainly a surprise; he hadn't expected anything to come out of the gun at all. He pulled the trigger several more times, and each time, without fail, a small beam of light would fire from the weapon and simply disappear after a short distance.
As a test, he fired one of these lasers into the floor in front of him, and to his astonishment, there was a singe on the floor where the light had hit. This weapon can actually cause damage: it wasn't just some kind of glorified sparkler. He carefully looked the weapon over, trying to find some kind of apparatus or something that caused this impossible ammunition. He found nothing of the sort; just an etching along the butt of the grip that read 'Polar Star'. Perhaps the name of the gun? Or the name of the genius gunsmith that made it?
He started thinking of any sort of application he could find for the Polar Star. He could hunt some bats, if he wanted, but he'd rather something a bit more practical. Then he remembered the blockade near the beginning of the cave, the one that looked dilapidated and could be destroyed if he had some kind of tool to work with. Could the Polar Star have enough firepower for the job? There was only one way to find out.
With renewed vigour, he dashed his way back to the start of this cave, wading through pools of water and doing his best to not disturb the wildlife of the cave, to the door leading back to the room he woke up in. In front of him was the wall he could not pass before; now was the moment. He picked a spot low enough on the wall for him to walk through, and fired a shot.
The wall did not crumble or shatter as he had expected, but rather, a sizeable chunk of the wall sizzled away where the shot had landed. Finally able to continue to where he assumed would lead outside – a cave must have a mouth, after all – he eagerly pressed forward. Ahead of him was a doorway, with the door that was keeping it closed knocked off its hinges and splintered on the ground to the side.
With the promise that answers would be just through the doorway, he continued onward – and promptly fell straight down when the ground gave way underneath him.
"Suuuuue!" Kazuma moaned loudly, exhausted from all his frantic typing and hoping and chatting to himself. The one time he had something of dire importance to tell her, and she was off doing who knows what. "Answer me!" he demanded. She was going to get an earful when they get back together, that's for darn sure.
"I'm so hungry…" he lamented quickly after. He rubbed his growling stomach with his free hand, trying to ease the pain he felt from it being so empty. "There's nothing to eat, and I've been reduced to eating cockroaches." He could just hear her reply to that one: What?! Cockroaches, are you nuts?! Kazuma, you can't really be that hungry, can you? That's so stupid! "That's a joke," he back-pedalled, forcing out a laugh, even though it wasn't really that funny, given his situation. "But if I have to, though, I really will…"
"Hand over the key!" he demanded, his face bunched up to a vicious snarl; he wasn't playing around.
"No, I won't!" she yelled back, putting up her fists as if she was going to defend herself over the key. He was a good head-and-shoulders larger than her, though, but she was too intimidated to run, or to even look him in the eye.
He would never strike her, and he relied on his size and tone of voice to get her to cooperate, although she was making this awfully difficult. "Are you trying to protect Sue?" He relaxed his face and lightened his tone, hoping to coax an honest answer from her. "She's a stranger. She's not one of us!"
She managed to drum up the courage to at least open her eyes for her answer. "Sue is a good person," she said simply, clutching the key tightly. "I'd never betray her! I can't give you the key!"
He softened his expression further; now that she seemed to calm down, if only slightly, she might listen to reason. "Toroko…" he said quietly, hunching himself a bit to look her in the eye. "When the Doctor comes," – she looked away from him again after hearing that title – "you know he'll take someone away again. If we don't turn Sue over, it might be you, or me, or any other Mimiga, he takes instead. You can't really prefer a stranger be spared over your own people, do you?"
He hated the look she gave her when he played that angle. She looked as though he was trying to crush her world with just his words and meanings – and, the Doctor reappearing and taking another Mimiga was a fact she couldn't ignore. "But…" she whimpered, on the verge of tears.
"The key, Toroko!" he demanded again once he had made his point, and coming a little closer to crying himself when he saw her reaction to his raised voice. But, it seemed to be working: she was looking at the key she fiercely held in her hand, so hard the blood was draining from her digits, and was really considering handing it over. He wished she would, so he could stop looking at her like this.
Just as she turned her eyes back up to his to give a reply, a huge object suddenly fell from the sky, landing directly between them, with incredible velocity. The surprise knocked the adult Mimiga off of his feet and onto his back, while Toroko, already emotionally fragile, panicked and started running, key in hand, wailing and hollering all the while. She had no direction to her running, just as long as it was away.
He groaned, slowly climbing to his feet – in his short time in this cave, he had taken a few surprise falls and drops, but he wasn't exactly prepared for that one. Still, checking himself over again, everything still seemed okay; the Polar Star was still functional as well. He dusted off his red pants, and got a look around his surroundings. This area was huge and hollow, with the ceiling several stories up; there was no way he'd be jumping back up there.
There were several lit torches dotting huge plaza, along with doors carved out of pillars of stone and in the walls of the large, hollow area, looking as though they lead into shelters and homes. One spire in the centre of the room wasn't much taller than the others, but it was much wider, and appeared to hold many more shelters itself. Off in the distance, he could even see some houses. He had found civilization! Was there someone here who could help him?
He looked around the ground where he had fallen; in his freefall, he had seen two creatures directly below them. He hoped he hadn't landed on either of them. One of them was gone, having run off shortly after he had landed, while the other, larger one was behind him, apparently dazed from the impact and still trying to gather his senses. The creature arduously pulled himself up, moaning off his dizziness as he did. "What was that?" he asked himself, waiting for his eyes to focus before getting a look at what had hit the ground in front of him.
Finally managing to get a grip, the creature took a good look at the man that had fallen from the sky (if it could be called that), noting many of his features and characteristics. Aside from the weapon in his hand, he didn't look especially threatening; in fact, he looked confused and lost, if a little hopeful now that he had found something resembling civilization.
The Mimiga immediately thought that the man was an enemy, perhaps a hired hand from the Doctor, especially with that pistol; but if he was going to make a move to abduct him or Toroko for the Doctor, he would have by now. The Doctor's minions weren't very big on subtlety, and he looked as if he wasn't going to make a move with the weapon, either.
"You're not with the Doctor?" he asked. He gave the creature a confused look, as if he didn't know who this 'Doctor' was – and then immediately looked downtrodden, since, if this creature did not recognize him as friend or foe, it would be unlikely that he knew anything about him at all. The Mimiga gave a relieved huff through his nose. "That's good, then…they're not here yet."
The Mimiga looked him in the eyes as he continued. He wore a long, purple robe; it looked a little torn, especially along the bottom, but it actually looked fairly comfortable all the same. He had a painful-looking scar drawn all across his dog-like snout, and he had large, white, floppy ears that reached all the way down to his shoulders. His eyes were a light red, and his pupils were thin slits, like a snake's. "My name is King," he said, without offering a hand to shake or anything of the sort. "I'm the number one in this village. Not that that means a whole lot by now," he continued, his eyes softening considerably as he looked over his village, "with only six of us left and all. Well…seven, if you count Sue. I don't like to, though; she's not one of us. She's just an outsider that showed up recently. Is she a friend of yours?" He wanted to shake his head, since he had no idea who anybody was and couldn't say for certain if he was really affiliated with anybody, but instead just stared blankly, unable to give a 'correct' answer. King gave an annoyed grunt at the silence. "Not a lot to say, huh?" he said, walking past him, intent on finding Toroko. "Whatever. We Mimiga mind our own business. Just stay out of trouble." And he was off.
He looked around his landing site – King said that there were seven Mimiga here? There's him, and the other one he nearly landed on…so, there are five others here. Maybe one of them could help him with his identity.
Just a short distance from where he landed was a sign, next to a doorway. With no other direction to take, he may as well start anywhere, and this doorway was as good a place as any. The sign next to it said 'Reservoir' – probably where the Mimiga got their drinking water, since the rest of the village looked fairly bone-dry.
Just through a short tunnel was a large ditch, where water seemed to collect from an opening in the ceiling. There was no water source, however: it appeared as though the aquifer the reservoir got its water was turning up dry. The reservoir would empty fairly quickly if there was no intake; it was a good thing there were so few Mimiga to maintain, in that case.
Sitting at the edge of the reservoir's shore was a single Mimiga, a fishing rod held loosely in his hand, his demeanour relaxed, as though he was totally unconcerned with the village being so empty, and the threat of some doctor coming by to take anyone by surprise. Next to him was a metal pail, probably containing whatever the Mimiga had caught, or was using for bait. He took a look inside the pale; it was nearly empty, and dry, save for a single piece of shiny metal that rested on the bottom.
The Mimiga looked him in the eye, once it realized he was there. "You with the Doctor?" He asked simply. He didn't seem nervous or apprehensive at all; he knew that if he was, struggling wouldn't help him much, since he'd seen others simply…vanish, whenever the Doctor rolled into town. They weren't carried or carted off, they'd just simply disappear. You can't exactly fight something like that.
Again, since he couldn't remember anything about who he was or who he knew, he couldn't give an honest answer, and instead gave no answer at all. "Guess not," the Mimiga answered for him. "How about Sue? Are you with her?" Yet again, no clear answer, although his expression was changing noticeably to reflect that his not knowing was beginning to distress him. "Do you know her? She's the cute girl that stays cooped up in Arthur's house all the time. She showed up here not too long ago, washed up right here on the reservoir. And since you're not exactly local either, I just thought…well, you know. You don't look like any human I've ever seen – you look different from the Doctor."
Different? Now that the Mimiga had mentioned it, he hadn't taken the time to look at himself in the water's reflection, even with all his opportunities. He got on his hands and knees and crawled to the water's fringe, seeing himself in its mirror. Large, blue eyes, and black, unkempt hair underneath his red hat. His skin was a pretty stark white, and he had these grooves along his face that didn't look too natural to him. He had a pair of odd receptor devices with antennae over each of his ears, as well. He didn't know any other species he could compare himself to, either…
"Sue doesn't seem to like us too much, though," the fisherman sighed dejectedly. "I have no idea why, since she's a Mimiga just like us." He paused a bit, bobbing his rod in the water, trying to stir any fish that might be in there into taking a bite. "Man, the fish sure are lazy today. Hadn't caught anything so far." He suddenly sat up before continuing. "Oh, although I did manage to get this weird…fish-shaped locket thing in the water. It's not food, so, do you want it? It's shiny, and you're…kinda shiny." He reached into the pale at his side, and pulled at the metal that was in there. "It's yours," the Mimiga said, handing it to him. Off the top of his head, he couldn't find any use for a silver locket either, but…well, it couldn't hurt to keep a hold of.
Another dead-end, as far as finding out his identity goes. Well, the village looked fairly large; maybe somebody else would know something. He turned to leave, and standing at the exit to the reservoir was another, smaller Mimiga wearing a green sweater of some kind. Oh! He remembered that one of those Mimiga he nearly fell on was wearing green! It's good to see that she's alright, at least.
Once she realized that she had been spotted, however, she quickly turned to run, and bolted out of the reservoir. She looked disappointed somehow…there being only one exit to the room, he wound up following behind her.
Standing just outside the exit to the reservoir was King, and the smaller Mimiga immediately froze in her tracks, seeing him standing there. She briefly glanced over her shoulder, considering running back into the reservoir, but she knew that that was a dead end, and she'd have to confront King eventually.
"Give me the key!" he demanded again, extending his hand. He was beginning to lose his patience with Toroko.
"No, I won't!" she yelled back. She closed her eyes, lowered her head, and charged forward, straight for King. Out of all her options, he wasn't expecting her to do that; he was caught off-guard, and Toroko managed to knock him off balance as she body-tackled him. He wasn't hurt at all, but he had lost his footing, and fell to his side from the rush, giving Toroko the opportunity to sprint straight past him and off into the distance.
King scrambled to his feet as quickly as he could, but Toroko had too much of a head-start, and was already out of his sight. The rocky spires and cliffs in the village made plenty of hiding spots for her to use, and no matter where King started looking, she'd run to the next safest spot if she saw him coming. He cursed under his breath, looking out over the village, his eyes scanning every nook and cranny he could find from his vantage point. "You're not getting away that easily, Toroko," he promised.
The man walked up to King, looking out over the village with him. King had seen him standing there in the doorway to the reservoir, watching the whole thing play in front of him. "Thanks a lot for your help," he said sarcastically. "Now I have no idea where Toroko is again, and she has the key to Arthur's house. I need to get that key; you could have helped me catch her, you know." He gave King an offended look, as if King had said or done something insulting to him directly. "What?" he asked, when he remembered their earlier discussion. "Oh, yes – I told you to stay out of trouble, didn't I?" His face relaxed and he nodded, telling King that he was only doing what he was told. "Well, good job, then…you take orders well. Unlike some others."
King crossed his arms, glancing over the village again. "If that's the case, you can make yourself not totally worthless by helping me find Toroko, and bringing her back. There's no way out of the village that she can reach, so she's definitely here somewhere." He turned from the village to look him right in the eyes, his muzzle curling up into another snarl. "If you hurt her, I'll break you. Just so we're clear." With that, he jumped the gap from the ledge leading to the reservoir, to the top of the central stone pillar, and from there onto an extension of land that held an individual cottage, disappearing into it.
He was no closer to learning much about himself, but now, at least, he had something to do. She looked young and nervous…if he was as young and as panicked as her, where would he try to hide? In one of the spires? Maybe some cranny that he couldn't see? The best thing to do in a situation like that is just to run. So, maybe she just ran as far as she could, for as long as she could?
The stone spires were easily three stories tall, or more. He had no trouble, however, simply falling down from ledge to ledge, quickly and harmlessly falling to the bottom floor. The falling wasn't so alien to him as it was the jumping.
In the far corner of the area was another shelter. It was a shack of some kind, although it had certainly seen better days: half of it was collapsed, though the other half, closer to the wall of the rocky dome, seemed stable enough. He jogged up to the shelter, noticing that the door to it was ajar. Well, anywhere was a good start, really.
Pushing the door to the shack open, there wasn't really a whole lot to see: there was no floor, and instead the ground was just as uneven as the ground outside the shack. There were a few boxes here and there in the building, looking as though they were made of metal, but he couldn't begin to guess what was in them. The oddest feature was a carved stone hanging low from the ceiling. What was it supposed to be? A chandelier? Some kind of pendulum? It was one of the odder features to include in—
"Why, you…!" he heard a voice say. He spun around, searching for the voice, when a small Mimiga, the one he was tasked to find, leaped out from behind one of the boxes. Her eyes were closed, and she was swinging a stick around as if she was trying to put up some kind of fight.
His first instinct was to draw his Polar Star and fire, but King had given a not-a-suggestion to bring her back without hurting her. There wasn't a whole lot of options available to him right off the bat. Fortunately, though, in her desperate offensive, she simply tripped over a rock on the floor, and fell flat on her face.
She didn't have the nerve to get back up; feeling as though she had screwed up her one shot at this, she stayed on the ground, hiding her face behind her hands, whimpering 'save me, save me,' to herself. She didn't know who could possibly come to save her now…except for King.
He walked silently up to her whimpering, quivering form. The poor girl; she probably thought the same thing as the others, and thought that he was in with the Doctor. He couldn't blame her; he didn't even know for certain if he was or wasn't. But it was pretty clear that it would be a bad thing if he was.
"…huh?" she asked, raising her head from her hands, to get a look at her 'attacker'. He looked back at her and smiled; if he put on a positive attitude, then hopefully it'd give her the message that he didn't mean her any harm. "You're…" she began, keeping eye contact with him, "you're not with the Doctor?"
He was worried that his usual strategy when asked that question would frighten her; she looked terrified to even say the title. While it might be dishonest, he shook his head. "Oh!" she said, sitting up to meet him face to face. "My name is Toroko. I'm sorry. You had me worried. The Doctor's such a mean guy." She broke eye contact with him, looking closer to the ground a short distance from where she was sitting. "He would pop into our village and take us away, whenever he wanted. Sometimes, he'd…" she hesitated. "Sometimes, he'd just kill us, right then and there. Like my…my brother. He, he killed my brother…"
She didn't know why she was telling this guy her life's story, but all the same, it felt better to get it off her chest and let the tears flow. She had cried plenty of times, but she had never really talked to anyone about it.
Just as she was drying her eyes, she noticed the silver locket he had gotten from the fisherman at the reservoir hanging tightly off his belt by the strap. "Hey! That pendant," she said, motioning towards it with her right hand. "Did you find it for me? That's a gift from Sue!" He already had both his hands wrapped around the strap, ready to untie it from his belt and hand it to her, no questions asked. But she put her hand on his, stopping him. "You should really keep it," she said – and sounded a little hurt at her own words. "King gets his ears in a knot whenever he sees us get along. I don't kn–"
There was a huge crash at the door to the shack. The whole building shook, and the vibration lifted both himself and Toroko almost right off the ground. Another crash, stronger than the previous one – it felt as though someone wanted to get into the shack badly, only without using the door. A third crash, and the door finally gave way, ripping a hole in the side of the shack.
"Huzzah!" a voice bellowed gleefully as whoever was making the noise erupted into the room. He didn't know exactly what to expect; he didn't think a Mimiga had that sort of strength, to knock down a chunk of a building. What was standing there, in the hole it just made, was some…machine? Robot? Or was it a living creature? It had two eyes, each bigger than the man's own head. Its body had a strange rectangular shape to it, looking more like a giant briefcase with arms and legs than anything. Its arms were short and triangular with a rounded edge, containing no hands or fingers, and they appeared to jut out of his body through some slots, or incisions. Its legs were stubby with rounded feet, without any knees or joints – and whether it was wearing shoes or not, he had no idea. He had two decorative yellow markings on his face, going up and down both his eyes in single strips. Whatever this thing was, it was certainly not a Mimiga.
He stood triumphantly in his destruction, savouring his spectacular entrance for the two onlookers. "There you are," he said after a moment, his large mouth forming a giant grin. "You can't hide from me, no no." He put some mock into his tone, talking down to the others, asserting his 'authority' immediately. "I've got the nose of a bloodhound, I do!"
"Indeed you do", came another disembodied voice, clearly feminine. The man had both his hands held firmly onto his Polar Star, though he wasn't aiming it at anyone just yet. Toroko, more confused than she was scared, stood behind him, using him as a shield. She had already planned out the best spot to hide in, in case things got ugly.
The briefcase-with-eyes looked up, knowing exactly where to find that voice in a moment. Following his gaze, he also looked up, and without a sound, a woman simply…appeared, melting into existence, in the air. She floated there for a moment, in a sitting position with her legs crossed, before plummeting to the ground. Her skin was as white as his, though she had no markings on her face. Her eyes were a bloodshot red, narrowed as she judged the people standing in front of her unfavourably. Her oddly-coloured dark-blue hair was kept neat and trim, reaching only to the back of her neck, and she wore a pair of simple pearl-white earrings on each lobe. She wore a light-green, sleeveless shirt and a pair of darker-green, thick pants that reached down to her ankles. In her left hand was a wooden staff with a ball on the end, but otherwise it didn't appear to be too special by itself; there were no markings or anything anywhere on it.
"The nose, and I dare say the brain, as well," she remarked snidely, landing in front of the briefcase.
"Misery," it said simply. Whether that was her name, or if it was just narrating its feelings, he couldn't tell. "I found her first! I get the credit for this one!"
"You," Toroko began, barely managing to get her voice higher than a nervous squeak, "you guys're with the Doctor, aren't you!?"
Misery hummed to herself, looking the Mimiga in the eye, deliberating on her answer. "So, your name is Sue, right?" She said, putting on just as wide a grin as the thing behind her had just moments ago. "The Doctor has called for you." She raised her staff, and pointed the balled end towards Toroko. "Come along, now."
Toroko, confused, sputtered a moment, unable to correctly put her thoughts into words. She did understand that there was a very real threat that she could be taken to see the Doctor if she didn't defend herself. "Uh," she finally managed to say, "I'm not Sue. My name isn't–"
Before Misery could give her the chance to continue, a bubble appeared on the end of the staff, and shot out towards Toroko. It zipped right past him, ignoring him completely, and it captured her easily. "Balrog," she said, levitating herself in the air with the bubble, "I leave the rest to you." And then they both simply vanished, Toroko all the while defending herself feverishly that Misery had the wrong Mimiga.
Balrog stamped his foot angrily. "Not again!" he bellowed, understandably irritated that not only is Misery going to take the credit for his find, but he was relegated to clean-up duty once again. "I always have to clean up! And here I found her first! Why can't she do the ugly parts for once in her miserable life?" He paused, looking at him, expecting a laugh. "You like that? I thought it up just now. Miserable life? Her name is Misery? Get it?" He wasn't in a very laughing mood; the Polar Star was still gripped tightly, though his stare could pierce holes alone. Balrog wasn't very intimidated. "So what's your deal?" he asked, almost casually. "You gonna fight me with that thing?" He tried to motion to the Polar Star with his stubs for arms, though it was an understandably strained action.
He wanted to fight this 'Balrog', sure, if it meant getting Toroko back. But Toroko was with Misery, not him, and he didn't know if the Polar Star was strong enough to get through to this guy. Not to mention, he still didn't even remember his own body that well. So, while he did not holster his weapon, he did not make a move to use it, instead only resolving to use it if he had to.
Balrog could see that he was a little nervous about using that dinky little toy against him. "Heh," he began, grinning again, "if you were, you would have by now. Be happy I'm feeling charitable right now, eh?" And then he simply left. He walked out of his improvised door, and with one titanic leap, was out of sight. He ran out of the shack, trying to keep up with Balrog, but once he got out and back into the open…Balrog was gone. How a thing as large as he was could not only jump so high, but totally vanish in just a few seconds, was a neat trick that he'd like to learn.
He had a whole new problem, though: he couldn't bring Toroko back. What was he going to explain to King? That this 'Doctor' person had taken her? He looked like he was really worried about her; it'd totally crush him if he had to bring him that sort of news. And it was pretty clear that King wasn't too friendly towards strangers in the first place.
"Hey!" a voice called, from a male Mimiga running up to him from the base of the central pillar. "What happened here? That Balrog guy only shows up when the Doctor takes another Mimiga from us. Is everyone okay?" This Mimiga, shorter than King, wore a thick, brown hat, and a pair of glasses with lenses so thick they could hurt a person. He wore a green, zipped-up blazer as well.
He had no reason to distrust the Mimiga, but even still, what he could tell anyone? What could he tell this one? "My name is Jack," the Mimiga introduced himself, and continued, looking a little distraught. "King told me about some other outsider that he asked to help look for Toroko. So, let me guess…they have her, don't they?" All he could do was nod his head. Jack sighed, resting his stressed head in his hand. "That's great, just great. Look, man," he restarted, reaching into his left pocket. "Arthur's house has two keys to it. Toroko had the first one, and this second one," he paused, pulling out a key from his pocket, "was hidden at his grave. Arthur was a fabulous warrior, the best any of us had seen in generations. But the Doctor and his goons managed to gang-up on him, and…well, he has a grave for a reason.
"None of us could hope to compare to Arthur, let's be honest. You don't look like a whole lot yourself – no offence – but someone's at least got to look after Sue. King hates her, and there are no other Mimiga that are even half-prepared for something like that, so…take this key. It leads to that huge house in the back corner." He turned sideways, pointing towards the large house a short distance from the central pillar. "Sue is in there somewhere. Get her someplace safer than this. I'll…I'll go tell King the bad news. Can you do this?" He nodded heavily, still feeling awful about letting them just take Toroko with him there, and accepted the key. Jack, having nothing more to say, began climbing back up the central pillar, on his way to King's house.
Well…even if he felt bad about Toroko, there wasn't a lot he could do about her, at least not now, as much as it pained him to think about that. But there was still Sue, who was still a good friend of Toroko's apparently. He felt a strong sense of obligation towards Toroko, especially since she had entrusted Sue's pendant to him. His identity could wait for now.
Reaching the door to the house – it was practically a mansion compared to the others in this village – the key slid into the lock easily and naturally, and with a turn, the door swung open, revealing to him Arthur's house. Only, Sue wasn't in it. The beds were undisturbed, though there were lots of complicated drawings on the house's only blackboard. There was also a computer; what luck. Hopefully, it'll tell him something about where Sue might be.
On the screen was a few lines of text; nothing saying anything about Sue, unfortunately. It appeared as though there was some kind of chat, or instant messenger opened up on the screen, and the last message received said simply 'But if I have to, though, I really will…'.
An interesting message was displayed alongside the chat, however: it read, permission granted to access Egg Corridor. Next to the computer was a large, glass tube – large enough for him to fit in. Some of its lights were blinking and the machine was humming with life, but there was no way to tell for certain if Sue had really travelled to this 'Egg Corridor'.
He gave the house another look over, just to make sure she wasn't hiding. All he found differently the second time were some red flowers in the corner: they appeared crushed, torn and wilted, like somebody was trying to stamp them flat for some reason. Other than that, nobody was here at all.
There wasn't much other option, really; the door was locked, meaning Sue couldn't have left the house, so this teleporter was the only way in or out. There was a panel just outside of the tube, asking for a designated location. It said it was searching for other viable teleportation locations, but so far, it had only found the one in Egg Corridor. Accepting the location as his destination, he stepped into the tube, and before he realized it, he was no longer standing in Arthur's house.