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(Who Is Meya Liu?)
 
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The Heroes Act end up missing on Planet Scyria, which Icky immediately calls AUU ''Ark: Survival Evolved'', and the Lodgers have to find them. Though they've each been scattered, and each have been surviving their own way. They've tamed the native prehistoric wildlife, and they're trying to find each other again. But even the Lodgers get separated with each of them. Thus they have to find whoever separated them and escape this planet. Along the way, they learn about the reason why the HA were even in this planet to begin with: They were after the Tiiken mad sciencetist known as [[Dr. Sayus Mayus Dayus]], a bioweapons exbert that intents on unleashing a lost Teadr 1 super race refered to as the Scyrians, a biologically perfected raptor super-race that given themselves the traits of other dinosaurs and prehistoric reptiles to become marvels of perfection. Thing is, the Scyrians locked themselves away for a reason, and it's because they were succombing to mutantion madness that messed with their minds because of too many genectic features and basicly scaled back to mindless creatures. Sayus is dangering the planet and potaintionally the universes by releasing a race cursed by their own genectic hubrus he believes would help him seek revenge against the Skorner race. The Lougers and the HA are in for a Dino-Might of a challnage.
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The Heroes Act end up missing on Planet Scyria, which Icky immediately calls AUU ''Ark: Survival Evolved'' only without flying ARKs surrounding a post-apocalyptic planet, and the Lodgers have to find them. Though they've each been scattered, and each have been surviving their own way. They've tamed the native prehistoric wildlife, and they're trying to find each other again. But even the Lodgers get separated with each of them because of Ark Titan-like beasts called the Titoses. Thus they have to find each other again and escape this planet. Along the way, they learn about the reason why the HA were even in this planet to begin with: They were after the Tiikon mad scientist known as [[Dr. Sayus Mayus Dayus]], a bioweapons expert that intents on unleashing a lost Teadr 1 super race referred to as the Scyrians, a biologically-perfected raptor super-race that given themselves the traits of other dinosaurs and prehistoric reptiles to become marvels of perfection. But the Scyrians locked themselves away because these changes made them succumb to mutation madness that messed with their minds, as too many genetic features regress intelligence and basically scaled them back to mindless creatures. Sayus is thus endangering the planet, which is vulnerable to conquest because the only places of civilization are found in flying high-tech obelisks and the Beaconbeam Tower, both of Tiikon engineering, to protect from the inhospitable outer wastelands, and potentially the UUniverses by releasing a race cursed by their own genetic hubris as he believes it would help him seek revenge against the Skorner race for what they did to him. They eventually reunite in Ar Cretacion, the former capital of Scyria, and meet a Tiikon scientific adventurer named [[Heili Runner]], and help her rescue her friends, a Sauran female Zoian warrior with armies of tamed wildlife named [[Meya Liu]], an expert hacker Xuron-Aectoid hybrid turned synthetic biomechanical android named [[Santrago An Sanct]], and his Skorner scientific combat agent wife [[Dinia Altories]], from a survival simulation in the tech-city of Ererit Prime infected by enhancelement, an adaptive half-metal and half-genetics material created by Scyrians to help their technological and transsentience evolution, and the infection itself has a sentience of it's own that has been able to download and imprison everyone inside with some kind of malicious AI program. After rescuing them, they say that they all aim to re-terraform Scyria after a long accidental adventure got the four together. They too planned to stop Dr. Sayus as he actually ended up forming his base of operations on what used to be that of their own during their stay in the radioactive Lapse Wastes, where they defeated their traitorous Chredder chemist ex-colleague [[Edwyn Stonewell]], who is now a tentacled mutated monster imprisoned in an underground sarcophagus. They intended to stop him fearing Stonewell would be set free before learning of his true goals, as he actually made a deal with Stonewell that, in return for helping him awaken the Scyrians and their unimaginable secrets, he'd be set free and given everything he ever wanted including his revenge, but they all ended up imprisoned inside the EP simulation with the exception of the escaping Heili. With a threat on the horizon, and Heili being too valuable to go with them, instead giving them a flying comical AI of her named HL-1, the heroes are in for a dino-mite of a challenge.
   
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[[File: ARK Extinction - Expansion Pack Official Launch Trailer|thumb|center|250px]]
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==Scenes==
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===='''Who Is Heili Runner?'''====
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Scyrian Island
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*Xandy:... Interesting. Hud, you need to see this.
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*Hudson: What is it, hon?
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*Xandy:... Okay, there's no one around to hear you call me that, so, whatever. I, found this journal. It depicts... A LOT of stuff. Something about a woman named... Heili Runner.
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*Hudson:... Huh. Oddly enough, that's the name of the lady people are gaga for here."
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*Xandy:... Well... What do you think she's been up to?
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*Hudson: Well, maybe the journal has some ideas.
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*Xandy:... Oy, you really are so simplistic and direct Hudson, and I like you for it. (She did so)
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*(Heili): I've lost count how many sunrises I've seen since I arrived on this island. Hundreds, I'd imagine. Yet, each one seems more beautiful than the last. Sometimes I like to take Athea out just before dawn and watch it while flying through the morning sky. It's in these simple moments that I realize just how lucky I am. Not that I was unhappy exploring the reefs and rainforests back on Tik, but I wasn't going to spot a UIS-territorial sauropod stomping about my homeland, now was I? Since I came here to continue the research of my Ma, the great Johnna Runner, I've had the opportunity to study the living and the greatness of tech not like any other Teadr 1 race. The Scyrians left behind such fascinating secrets. I'll always be grateful for that.
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*Xandy:... She really DOES seem lucky.
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*Hudson: Huh. Didn't think Heli was a Tiken.
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*Xandy: Well, what did you THINK she was?
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*Hudson: Maybe a sentient version of a native dino? I dunno, you tell me!
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*Xandy: (She giggles) Oh, Hud. (She continued reading)
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*(Heili): I've been holding out for a change in weather before studying the wildlife of this island's peculiar tundra region, given my natural cold-bloodedness, but I think it's safe to say that it's not forthcoming. Clearly this planet has no axial tilt, given the condition of the environment outside this island, and therefore, it has no seasons. That ice and snow isn't melting anytime soon. Can't say I'm happy about it. The cold and I are not the best of mates. Reminder in cause a MORON is reading this, I'm a Tiiken, which are reptiles, and reptiles don't take kindly to coldness. I can tell you that, but I just have to suck it up. An environment for dinosaurs like these are fairly uniform, so an arctic climate is quite the oddity.
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*Xandy:... Well, if THAT doesn't indicate she's a Tiikon, I don't know what does. Tiikons are smart critters.
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*Hudson: She came off abit aggressive with the "Moron" comment, though.
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*Xandy: Goes to show how much the cold sucks for reps! (She giggles again and continues reading)
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*(Heili): The tribe that calls itself the Howling Rolves have made this expedition in the north a lot easier. Well, them and Athea. She's right at home here. She may be a pterosaur, but she's a pteroavian, so she's more bird than reptile. I don't think I'll ever repay Stonewell for just up and giving me a Pteriornis. He's said our conversations are payment enough, but I still feel guilty. I should remember to collect some floral samples while I'm here. Anyway, tagging along with the Rolves has been a good introduction to the region, but I think I'm ready to make my own way. To make real scientific conclusions, I need to observe these animals undisturbed in their natural habitat for long periods of time.
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*Hudson:... Yes, definitely a Tiikon. If there was even some minor doubt, that killed it faster then a fat kid on cake. (Xandy giggles)... Okay, Xans, your giggles are getting contagious now, are ya catching a laugh virus?
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*Xandy: Oh, stop it, cutie! (She continued reading)... Wow, she sounds excited on this page.
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*(Heili): What a day! There I am, putting the finishing touches on the Mammothericus Dossier, when all of a sudden, a Tyrannus starts attacking the herd. Strewth! A Tyrannus wading through the bloody snow! I asked The Howling Rolves at the nearest camp, and apparently, this is a common thing. They’re not new to the region. It just doesn’t make sense. How can a Tyrannus, a REPTILE, survive in this climate? And how can the introduction of an apex predator not shift the entire ecosystem?!
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*Hudson:... I take it she didn't get the memo on this world yet.
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*Xandy: I'm sure she'll figure that out, let's just keep reading.
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*(Heili): Well, I've combed through more carnivore droppings than I care to calculate, and I can't say they provided many answers. All the predators in this region have very similar diets. With so many different predators hunting the same prey, the populations of all these species shouldn't be sustainable. Yet I've found nothing to indicate that any population shift is actually happening. It's just bizarre! The longer I'm here, the more I realize that this region shouldn't exist. Its climate is out of sync with the rest of the island, and the planet in general, many of the creatures here are equally dominant and therefore deadlocked or threatened, and the ecosystem is almost static! Something's off. I need to review my notes.
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*Xandy:... Well, let's hope she realizes it.
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*(Heili):... Heili, you're a dipstick. Going through my notes, I've realized that there are more predators than prey across this entire island by almost double. That's the OPPOSITE of how ANY ecosystem is supposed to work. It's like this world was meant to be a dino-fantasy video game and all the iconic carnivores are present in mass! I can't believe it took a Tyrannus frolicking through the snow for me to see this. It's plain as day. What to make of it? Add in the sentient being factor, and it's impossible for this island to continue as it is by natural means. So, what, is this island's wildlife being monitored and curated somehow? Possibly from the Scyrians, or their technology, in some way? I should speak with Stonewell. Maybe he's come to a similar conclusion.
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*Xandy:... Well, at least she's catching on. Watching people as smart as this woman discover things is... Kinda engaging.
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*Hudson: I'm just glad she doesn't do too much sciencey talk. (They continue reading)
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*(Heili): I never thought this island was normal, exactly. I mean, there are three giant obelisks not of Tiikon origin floating in the sky, for Petan's sake. Not to mention that cave I found in the central volcano, which hid a platform similar to those found at the base of said obelisks. Well, similar except for those oddly shaped holes that were carved into its podium. I guess I just didn't care about all that. So long as I had my beautiful, unique and untainted ecosystem to study, I was happy. But now... No, I shouldn't write it off just yet. Not before I arrive at Stonewell's. There's still a chance that my data is off or, that I missed something obvious. I won't give up on my paradise just yet.
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*Xandy:... "Her paradise" she said.
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*(Heili): I really need to visit Stonewell more. It's so energizing to be around someone of his experience that still has so much excitement for his work, and talking to him always helps me gain perspective. As for the island's ecological abnormalities, Stonewell reassured me that I was jumping to conclusions. He made a great point: Just because this place doesn't follow the scientific or natural laws, let alone even the most basic sense of the natural world we're used to, doesn't mean it follows no scientific laws at all. After all, science is about discovery, and new discoveries can invalidate old principles, or reinvent them, whatever works with you. So before I latch onto my theory, I need to gather more empirical evidence. Otherwise, I'm no scientist.
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*Xandy:... Well, at least she's got someone who's optimistic in her circle.
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*(Heili): On Stonewell's recommendation, I've headed south to start an in-depth study of the island's marine life with the help of a tribe called the Dyesharks. Because the ecosystem of the ocean that surrounds the island is separate from the ecosystem on the mainland, correlating patterns between them might help me isolate and understand this island's scientific abnormalities. Also, after freezing my ass off for so long, I could really use an extended stay on a tropical island. Marine biology wasn't my uh, Magnum Opus of study, but I do love the ocean. A lot of people do these days. And why not? If nothing else, it should be beautiful there, as many oceans are.
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*Xandy: Puh-REECH!
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*Hudson:.... This seems to affect my inner Aquastar.
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*Xandy: Oh, Hud.
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*(Heili): The Dyesharks have treated me like I'm the bloody queen since I showed them Stonewell's letter of recommendation. I don't think I've eaten better in my entire time on the island. Not that it's a high bar, I'm a horrible cook. Oh, and they've been of tremendous help with my research, of course. So far, my estimates of the predator-prey balance are consistent with the ecosystems on the mainland. The water is simply teeming with shoals of Junjadons, and they are extremely aggressive. Perhaps that's a side effect of having limited prey? Sharks aren't known as territorial creatures. I'll have to study them further.
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*Hudson:... Heck's a Junjadon?
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*Xandy: Oh, I learned about them as Xasandra. They're an offset evolutionary cousin of the Junja Shark, and they're MUCH bigger, have armored spiked backs, and are night-black.
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*Hudson:....  And this woman, was crazy enough to study them?
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*Xandy: Apparently. When you're a scientist, you take risks.
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*Hudson: "It's amazing alot of them are even alive."
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*(Heili): Still no answers as to why the Junjadons are so territorial, but I was privy to something even more extraordinary: Junjadon Mating Behavior! No one's ever witnessed Junjas rooting around back home, so that alone is monumental, but I got something even better. I know, what could possibly top watching Junjadons having a naughty, right? Tracking the female! I was able to observe her for almost the full gestation period, and get this, it only lasts one week. One, week! No wonder the population is so high. These are spitting out pups 44x the rate of the average Junja. I should compare how they behave in captivity.
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*Xandy:... Captivity?... Those things, can be TAMED?!
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*Hudson: Apparently. I guess ANYTHING can be tamed on this planet.
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*(Heili): So, in addition to all of the oddities I found with wild Junjadons, here's the real sherry on top: Taming them is a piece of piss. A bit of training and they're more obedient than the family rog. Now, I've heard of sharks getting very rudimentary training over a year or so, but not to this extent. Certainly not so easily. Sharks aren't mammals or even avians, they're fish. They rely more on instinct, I.E., they're not very smart. You shouldn't be able to ride one like a jet ski. I'm trying to keep an open mind like Stonewell suggested, but, I'm kinda back to square one where I question the realism of this planet.
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*Xandy:... Well, true. When you become self-aware of your own paradise... It gets ruined. Though it's not exactly hard to see oddities like this.
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*Hudson: Soooo, she still has no idea that this is a controlled environment? Ugh, you would think that Tikens would be smarter than that!
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*Xandy: I'm SURE we're getting to that. Just be patient, kay?
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*(Heili): Well, this seals it. Just when I thought I'd made some sense of the notes I took while visiting the Dyesharks, I spotted the nail in the proverbial coffin: Roos. A whole herd of giant Roos were just hopping about the countryside like they'd always been there. As much as I love Roos, they just shouldn't be here, period. They evolved away from dinosaurs. Large mammals and dinosaurs can't so easily share the same environment without some degree of environmental damage, and/or causing natural chaos. If I know any genus, it's this one, and Coptopodus should not exist here. This island isn't an ecosystem, its a zoo, or better yet, it may as well actually be the previously claimed Dinosaur Fantasy Video Game.
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*Xandy:... Cute.
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*Hudson: Well took her long enough to get the picture.
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*(Heili): Not too long ago, I thought this place was a far-off utopia where I could study a lot of UIS wonders AND the secrets of yet another lost Teadr 1 race unlike many I've seen. Now that I'm certain it's not natural at all, I have to say, it's lost a lot of luster, that's to say, this world feels like a parody of what uneducated folks THINK prehistoric times were like. This shouldn't be a real world. But, would that mean that, It's Teadr 1 race was a lie too? Not helping that they disappeared mysteriously and even the Wondos can only guess what happened, so some part of me feels as if the Wondos do know what happened, but are motivated to play dumb on it as if to protect some secret. Interference from sentientkind hasn't helped. Most tribes have learned to live in harmony with their slice of the island, but some aren't content with that. One is even trying to conquer all the others, and natural or not, this ecosystem won't be any better off if it's burned down in some great war. In some way, I know it involves the technology my Mother studied. The sunrises are still beautiful, though. At least nothing can change that, not even the implication of a planet being faked, or at the least radically altered from its normal ways.
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*Xandy:... They really are, sister. They, really, are.
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*Hudson: Glad you're together with someone who can fly huh?
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*Xandy: (Chuckles) Yeah.
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*(Heili): Of all the abnormalities that I've observed, the tamed Junjadons stick out to me. It was almost like they were stray rogs who were resocialized, as though they had a genetic history of sentient obedience. Obviously, it's the Scyrians, but I can't know for certain yet. Most of my observations have been in the wild, but I think I may learn a thing or two if I observe domesticated creatures more closely. I need to study their diets, their mating patterns, how they socialize with other species, all this and that and what have you. Rumor has it that there's some woman that's tamed a whole mess of them all by herself, so many that they call her The Animal Queen. Maybe she'll have some useful insights.
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*Xandy:... I don't feel confident with that. That sounds like a feral being. And that ain't pretty.
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*Hudson: Nope... But let's keep reading just to be sure. Maybe this 'Animal Queen' is a different kind of feral person.
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*(Heili): I suppose it was a bit naive of me to think that someone with the moniker of "Animal Queen" would roll out the red carpet. Should've figured that being the "Animal Queen", requires to being QUITE the piece of work! I guess I got used to all the friendly treatment that being an associate of Stonewell's earned me. She did let me stay at least, and she hasn't instructed her dinosaurs to kill me yet, so that's a positive. Not that she'd really need the dinosaurs. If that glare of her's gets any more intense, I'll probably just burst into flames on the spot. Strewth, I hope she eases up. Sifting through raptor excrement with someone watching is harder than you might think.
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*Xandy:... Well she's got the scary look of an unsentient animal, for sure.
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*Hudson: Yeah, this queen's glare would certainly do something random like that... In a figurative sense.
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*(Heili): There's nothing special about the diet of these tamed creatures when compared to their wild counterparts. Part of that is the Animal Queen's doing, as she takes them on regular hunting excursions for training purposes. Curiously, they never have to range too far. There is an abundance of prey nearby, despite the size of her pack. That this has held true regardless of her domesticated creature's remarkable birth and growth rates makes it even more unusual. Oh, and I did finally get her name: Meya Liu. She's gotten a little less glarey, too. In hindsight, maybe starting by studying her animals' feces just gave her the wrong impression.
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*Hudson:... Yeah, I mean, why was she even do that?
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*Xandy:... I'm amazed you didn't know that, hon. That's how biologists study an animal's diet.
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*Hudson:... Still gross.
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*Xandy: Science ain't always sanitary, Huddy.
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*(Heili): The most interesting thing that I've observed about Meya's animals has been what they don't do: they never fight. Among creatures that have been domesticated for generations like feloots or rogs, that's normal, but there's a reason zoos keep their animals in separate enclosures. Certain instincts are hard to curb, and there should definitely be more disputes among such a diverse group. Meya has even integrated a herd of herbivores into her army, as their thick hides have proven resistant to fire and explosives. Yet despite being surrounded by carnivores, they remain untouched. It doesn't make sense. That's not to take anything away from Meya. She works hard to treat and train her animals well. She's not bad company either, at least when she's not mute and I don't go full biologist. Sometimes it's felt like speaking a new language, but it's been kind of refreshing.
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*Hudson:... I don't know how to feel about this 'Meya' person.
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*Xandy: Me neither. But Heili looks like she's got her charm, so that should change soon.
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*(Heili): After going over my notes from Meya's camp, I've concluded that the animals on this island are not only used to sentient beings, but used to captivity. Even with their accelerated growth rates, their behavior indicates that they have been regularly domesticated for decades at least. Otherwise, they'd never obey the whims of sentientkind so easily. With that in mind, I believe that my theory about this island being curated is back in play, again. In fact, it's possible that not only are animal populations being controlled, but that the animals themselves are genetically modified. However, before I bring this to Stonewell, there's one more rumor that I want to confirm.
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*Xandy:... Hmm...
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*(Heili):... This is the smoking gun. It has to be. I simply can't be convinced that this place is natural after finding an island populated entirely by carnivores. Even if they fed off of each other, which is awfully dubious given that carnivore meat is much more likely to carry harmful parasites than herbivore meat, the landmass is so small and their population is so dense that they could never maintain it. Yet there it is, hidden away off the northeast coast of the island. Someone could have to put them there on purpose. There's no way that Stonewell can deny my theory now.
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*Hudson:... Seriously?
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*Xandy: Actually, yeah, now that she brings it up, I HAVE seen that island before I met up with you. I saw a Tyrannus fighting it out with a group of Scoepons AND a pack of raptors.
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*Hudson:... Wow. I'm surprised Heili was the ONLY one to realize that. The people on this island must've been dumb as bricks.
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*Xandy: Or maybe just blissfully ignorant.
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*(Heili): As I expected, Stonewell couldn't deny my theory, but I can't say that I have his endorsement either. He didn't seem terribly engrossed in the subject, frankly. Something else seems to have captured his attention as of late: the island's obelisks. Apparently, Stonewell stumbled upon a way to interact with the towering monuments while spelunking, of all things. I guess he felt the need to scratch that old intrepid explorer itch of his. It's pretty impressive, considering his age, as he knew my Ma. Now that I think about it, the obelisks could be linked to my own findings about Scyrian technological involvement on this island. Their nature has always been a mystery, and Stonewell made some intriguing observations. I should follow up.
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*Hudson:... Something tells me their story has just begun.
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*Xandy: No kidding.
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*(Heili): Though I've been received by the Steel Brotherhood, they didn't seem very pleased to see me, especially when I mentioned Stonewell. That's a first. Add that to the rather deserted, gloomy state of their compound, and I'm starting to feel a bit apprehensive. Their leader can't return from his hunting expedition soon enough. All I've confirmed so far is that yes, they gathered all of the artifacts Stonewell sought and yes, the artifacts were able to activate one of the obelisks. You'd think they'd be celebrating such a monumental discovery, but it's just killjoys as far as the eye can see. Go figure.
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*Hudson/Xandy: Well it IS a primitive tribe. JINX! DOUBLE JINX! (They both laughed)
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*(Heili): I keep glancing at the artifact. I understand why the Steel Brotherhood's leader didn't want it. Since it has no apparent use, all it does is remind him of the tribesman who died seizing it from that giant multi-fanged spider. Can it really be useless, though? They described the artifacts that activated the obelisk as looking similar to it, so I headed to the nearest obelisk to see if I could get a response. No luck. Maybe it activates something else? Of course! The platform in the volcanic cave! It's a long shot, but it's the only thing I can think of that's similar to the obelisks. Definitely worth a try.
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*Xandy:... Yeah, she's starting to solve a puzzle here.
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*Hudson: Let's see if it worked.
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*(Heili):... Unbelievable! The artifacts perfectly fits one of the slots in the platform's pedestal. How did I not notice that right away? I really am a dipstick. So if this key, such as it is, was acquired by activating one of the obelisks, then it follows that the other two keys can be obtained by activating the other two obelisks. Then, with all three keys, maybe this platform will lead to whatever is controlling the island's ecosystem. If the other obelisks work the way that the first one did, that means I have to find a whole mess of artifacts first, and I don't think I can do that alone.
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*Hudson:... Meya?
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*Xandy: Meya.
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*(Heili): Well, the Howling Rolves are quickly tracking down the artifacts, but after hearing about what happened to the Steel Brotherhood, that's as far as they'll go. It's understandable, but it leaves me in a tight spot. If a giant spider and I get in a scrap, the spider's winning for sure. Even with Athea on my side, I prefer to avoid danger, not confront it. My aim's piss poor and I've got fists like soft pillows. If I want a fair go at actually surviving whatever happens when the obelisk activates, I'll need backup. Negotiation Notes: Don't mention feces. Don't look directly at the glare. Bring chili (UNBURNED).
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*Xandy: Definitely Meya.
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*Hudson: Yep, Meya.
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*(Heili): Now, I know you don't get a nickname like "Animal Queen" without being one tough lady, but when I saw that giant ape, Giopithecus to be more specific, and a rare endangered species at that, I still thought we were buggered. Fortunately, Meya's got more intestinal fortitude than yours truly, and somehow, someway she was able to pull out a win. Glad I'm on her good side. I already found the second key, but I want to take a look around here before we head back through the portal. This ape either lived here, or was released when we activated the obelisk. Finding out how it survived in this isolated environment or how it got here could prove useful.
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*Hudson:... Wow. I guess they look like they might win this quick.
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*Xandy:... Ummm... I think you spoke too soon, honey. Listen to this.
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*(Heili): So, these are the conquerors that I heard about way back when. Not a great first impression. Meya and I weren't quite mates, but watching her creatures get slaughtered like that certainly wasn't pleasant. I'm not a fan of the prisoner lifestyle, either. The leader introduced himself as Nervay Gai Artegerant, and he's not a complete bogan, I'll give him that. He let me keep my personal effects and our conversations have been civil so far. I get the feeling that'll change if I don't cooperate, though. Not that I have much choice. They already took the keys. The only way I'm seeing this through is as a "guest" of the Artegerant Legion.
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*Hudson:... Wow.... That went downhill fast.
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*Xandy: A slaughter?! Damn.
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*(Heili): This Nervay bloke's FIGJAM incarnate. Seems that his entire family wants to leave the island and reclaim the world or some rubbish like that. I think his ego was actually tangible when the Legion returned from to the obelisk with the third key and the head of a Dracthysaur in tow. Sadly, as much as I would enjoy seeing him fall flat on his face, I need him and I need the Artegerant Legion. So, when he "asked" me to guide his forces to the hidden cave, I obliged without protest. What he'll do with me afterwards, I don't know.
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*Hudson:... I'm genuinely scared right now.
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*Xandy:... Me too.
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*(Heili): When Nervay and his band return from the cave, they'll decide my fate, so this may be my final chance to reflect. I may as well take advantage of it. I realize that had I just ignored the signs and accepted this paradise at face value for easier research on the Scyrians and the wildlife for Ma, I'd still be happy and free and be spared her fate. Would that have been better? I don't think so. After a lot of thought, I've decided that I'd rather die seeking the truth than living in an illusion or living in the past. That, as Stonewell would say, is the path of a true scientist. Not that I'm some historical scientist battling the church or anything, but hey, it's something to hold onto.
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*Hudson:... So... She's dead?
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*Xandy:... Not quite. Look at this.
  +
*(Heili): Well, I'm not dead, and as it turns out, neither was Meya. In fact, it was her who freed me, and insisted we follow Nervay through the portal in the cave. A horrifying scene awaited us. All of Nervay's men lay dead amongst the shards of a mysterious metal, but Nervay's body was missing. Forgetting my present company, I suggested a peaceful approach if we encountered him. That earned me one hell of a knockout punch. After all, Meya's animals were all dead, and the one she cared for the most, a raptor named Suave, died saving her life. A sacrifice like that would have her understandably seeking revenge. But I at least tried to have a compromise. When I came to, I searched the whole station, but the only signs of Meya and Nervay were a few ounces of dried blood. No bodies, and no victor. Then suddenly, there, floating outside the window and surrounded by machinery, was not just the very island that I had been living on, but the land and ocean around it. I never thought the rest of the planet as a whole was a wasteland. I never had the chance to see it when I arrived. Teleportation and all that. But the station I was on? It was orbiting high above the planet close to the Karman line. This station was doing some crazy work on the obelisks on the island. And everything was revealed. The ecosystem on the island wasn't just curated, it was completely artificial from the ground up. In fact, it wasn't just a controlled and contained environment just like I knew it was... It was some kind of prison. What in the hell is all this? Why would the Scyrians construct it? And how could they have possibly kept it hidden from the world? I don't have the answers to any of these questions or the dozens of others that keep popping into my head, but somehow, I mean to find out. Somehow, I'll find the truth.
  +
*Xandy:... So, I guess she's starting to reveal everything needed to know about the Scyrians.
  +
*Hudson:... Yeah.
  +
*Xandy:... So it ends here... But she says here that she has another journal. One that she made because she suspected that it would be her last entry for now.... Clever forethought.
  +
*Hudson: Yeah, kinda comes from a race known for extra personas.
  +
*Xandy: Definitely.
   
  +
Scorchar Desert
  +
*Xandy:... It can't be!
  +
*Hudson: What? What?
  +
*Xandy: This is the second journal of Heili!
  +
*Hudson:... Wow, isn't that a coincidence?
  +
*Xandy: And we didn't even have to do some proper journeying.
  +
*Hudson: Nope.
  +
*Xandy: Let's see what happened after she found that floating tower.
  +
*(Heili): I'm alive. Why the hell am I alive and how? Well, I suppose it is a rather strange question to ask. But I just learned how my mother died. She was killed by that station's Overwatcher AI or something because 'she was learning too much' or some hogwash like that. I’m still not entirely certain just how I got that console working before he came, but it suddenly started cycling through holographic images of different destinations far from the island that I’d been studying on. Of course, I couldn't think before pressing another button while it was showing off one that contained miles and miles of bloody desert, and here I am. Seems that the station teleported directly above the desert, which is actually inside a giant crater, and I had to jump from this massive altitude to avoid getting killed. That’s just typical of me, isn’t it? Always leaping, never looking. It's a bloody miracle I survived that fall somehow. Oh well, better make the best of it, and by that, I mean "better not die of heat exhaustion". Not that it was a possibility. Reptiles THRIVE in heat.
  +
*Xandy: (Giggles)
  +
*Hudson: Still sick of that laughing virus?
  +
*Xandy: Oh, come on, Hud, you like my laugh, don't you?
  +
*Hudson: Yeah, but we're on an important mission to stop Dr. SMD.
  +
*Xandy: I know, but... Maybe these people we've been reading about might have some clues to how we start.
  +
*(Heili): Okay, reptiles can't thrive in THIS kind of heat. It's burning hot out here. Too much for me. Worse, my hunting skills are seriously out of practice. Not that I was ever spectacular, but I feel like I’d graduated from smashing bugs with a rock at some point. At least I was thoroughly rewarded for my efforts. My hunch was spot on these big green bastards are carrying drinkable water on their backs, and thank goodness for that! I may have never known if I’d killed a red one first, since those carry oil instead. Far less useful when you’re dying of thirst, let me tell you. I may be fighting the inevitable, though. I’m still on foot and still alone. Definitely miss Athea.
  +
*Xandy:... Well, glad that Isabellene got her and... She became a mother with Achitans.
  +
*Hudson: THERE'S a happy ending for you.
  +
*(Heili): I’m on a roll. By sheer coincidence, I stumbled into another group of survivors today, and they didn’t try to kill me or anything. If I didn’t know how probability actually worked, I’d say that this recent string of good luck is the universe making up for sending me to the bloody desert in the first place. The caravaners were welcoming, and the creatures they ride are fascinating. They seem like dinosaurs, but they also appear to share some biology with camels. Bizarre! For all its oddities, the island never had anything like that. I’ll have to study them... After a nap. All this desert survival’s left me knackered.
  +
*Xandy:... Oh, she means these Limels.
  +
*Hudson: I guess.
  +
*(Heili): If I’d ended up in this place instead of on that island, I’d have never imagined the ecosystem was natural. Not for two seconds. Take these Nimels for example: they’re actually a new species that was generated a population by the Scyrian structures in the sky decades ago. They have a biology identical to bamals, and the strangest part? There are places in its humps where you can stick a spigot and get clean drinking water. Tastes like piss, but not only is it safe, it doesn’t even harm the Nimel. It’s crackers. Definitely a genetically-engineered modification, but I knew that, didn't I? Maybe studying the creatures here with my new perspective will yield some insight.
  +
*Xandy:... Well we just got ourselves some info, and- HUDSON?!
  +
*Hudson: (He was seen taming one)... What? She said they had water in them. And bonus, we got a ride.
  +
*Xandy:... Eh, why not? I'm tired of riding vehicles anyway. (As they rode on the Limel they kept reading)
  +
*(Heili): Today, I caught a glimpse of what the caravaners call the "Boundary Dunes". The desolate sea of sand that apparently surrounds the livable portion of the desert on all sides inside the giant crater we're standing in. Now those dunes are pretty inhospitable, what with the harsh sunlight baking the sands, the lack of much water, and even the predators that dwell there. But not only do they, stretch on for a long time, but they're home to... Get this... giant sand "worms" that will devour anything that sets foot in their domain. I laughed that off at first since it seemed unlikely a giant worm like that could survive such an environment with little water and food with such a great metabolism. Then I saw a creature the size of a train burst up from the sand and devour a wild Nimel that had wandered into its territory. I suppose I'll just have to learn to walk without rhythm.
  +
*Xandy:... Wow. A giant worm.
  +
*Hudson: Just like the ones that attacked us when we got here.
  +
*Xandy: Damn.
  +
*(Heili): As absurd as the Sandons are, I see their purpose. They are a natural barrier. Since this whole crater is apparently another contained and controlled environment like the island, but not also serving as a prison site, then it needs to keep the wildlife and sentient animals inside it who have been a means of sentient animal control contained in a way that appears natural. The island accomplished that by simply being an island, and the desert does it via the Sandons. Granted, a large population of predators with ludicrous kilocalorie needs would never last long in a place as devoid of prey as I said before, but as this is an artificially-crafted and curated environment meant to fix the wastelands outside, the station can feed or, replace the Sandons as needed. It's a little convoluted, but it makes sense.
  +
*Xandy:... Wow.
  +
*Hudson: You said it.
  +
*(Heili): Time to go over the facts. Like the island, this crater desert is a contained surface environment posing as a natural environment until a future date. It is inhabited by a large population of dangerous, genetically-reshaped and controlled creatures, and a small population of sentient animals and immigrating sentient beings that are struggling to survive. This whole environment is then deliberately contained by a combination of a holographic horizon and natural barriers. Assuming the other places around the world are at all similar, then this whole thing is starting to look like some kind of bizarre experiment on a grand scale. Yes, each environment would represent an experimental group, and... I'll have to continue this later. One of the caravan's scouts just returned in a panic. Something about rocks being alive, which is of course ridic.
  +
*Xandy:... Wow, she hadn't gotten out much, has she?
  +
*Hudson: Nope. Apparently not.
  +
*(Heili): I long for the days when I thought a tyrannus frolicking through the snow was the height of absurdity. Compared to yesterday, that seems commonplace. As the scout had so eloquently put, the rocks were indeed alive. Alive, in the shape of a massive, bipedal Rok and exceedingly angry. I was too shocked to scatter like the others when it charged, and for a moment, I was certain that I would die. Then something even more ludicrous happened. Lightning crashed into the Rok, but it didn't come from the sky. It came from the mouth of a bloody Dracthysaur. I don't recall much else. Fear and instinct pretty much took over for the rest of the day, and while that helped me survive, I'm once again on my own.
  +
*Xandy:... Well that was lucky.
  +
*Hudson: I should say so, you don't have a savior riding a dracthonosaur saving your life unexpectedly every day.
  +
*(Heili): Well, I found a new best mate. The little fuzzball isn't exactly what I meant, but I'll take her. It's a little critter called an Earbitidium. They're small, cuddly little herbivores, and as far as I can tell, taming one has no practical use. I just couldn't let the her starve to death, though. I guess all this rubbish with Roks and Drachtysaurs has quenched what was left of my scientific instinct to leave nature to nature. At least we provide each other with a little warmth at night, and her antics have helped to keep my spirits up. I suppose I'll need to give her a name.
  +
*Hudson/Xandy: Awwww.
  +
*(Heili): I may have been wrong about Earbitidium not having a practical use. Earlier today, my furry new companion started bouncing around so excitedly that I couldn't calm her down, and then soon enough it started raining. I brushed that off as a coincidence, but soon after filling my waterskins and setting off once more, she started acting skittish. I decided to find shelter just in case, and within minutes light rainfall had turned into an electrical storm. I'll need more evidence to draw any firm conclusions of course, but I wouldn't mind having a fuzzy little creature that can scan for weather with me. You know... It's a little on the nose, but Scanny's not a bad name.
  +
*Xandy:... Impressive. A creature that can sense weather changes.
  +
*Hudson: I have GOT to get me one of THOSE!
  +
*Xandy: (She giggles)
  +
*(Heili): Thank goodness that I decided to find some high ground two days ago, or I'd have never spotted this settlement. That's twice now that I've stumbled into my own salvation. I can't count on that happening again. I'll need to stay here for a while and prepare before setting out once more. Fortunately, the villagers are willing to let me trade work for supplies and shelter. Another stroke of luck, and another factor I can't rely on. On the island, Stonewell's name got me far, but here I'm just another stranger. Not everyone will trust or help me. I need to be prepared to survive on my own.
  +
*Hudson:... Well, she's DEFINITELY lucky.
  +
*(Heili): In some ways, surviving on my own was less work. At least then I wasn't conscripted into manual labor. Ugh, my whole body feels sore! I bet I wouldn't have to work if I were as adorable as Scanny. The whole village is in love with her. I swear, they spoil her like a furry little princess. Stonewell would be livid about this arrangement. I can just hear him ranting about treating scholars with propriety. I hope the old Chredder is doing well. Maybe when I've broken this mystery wide open, I'll figure out a way to get him off the island and we can discuss it all over tea like old times.
  +
*Hudson:... He's a Chredder, huh?
  +
*Xandy: Apparently. But, let's see how she does without him.
  +
*(Heili): While my mind still can't recall the last time I fired a gun, my muscle memory is much better. According to my would-be instructor, I wasn't a complete disaster on the firing range. I'm no pacifist. Death and violence are a part of life, that's just nature. Yet a gun still makes me a little uncomfortable. The idea of shooting at another sentient being or animal, just seems instinctively wrong to me. I couldn't even fire at the Artegerent Legion back on the island. But I need to pull my weight. The villagers have been welcoming and patient with me. For their sake, I need to practice.
  +
*Hudson: Well, she got this far, so, she might need to catch up with whatever surprises await her.
  +
*(Heili): I may have to put my freshly-polished marksmanship skills to the test sooner than I thought. A hunting party spotted a swarm of giant M-Lucuses heading in our direction. M-Lucus. I read a lot about them, but I never seen one with my own eyes. But I also didn't expect to see them this early given the villagers have spoken of them every now and again. It's a little-known fact that M-Lucus is an intelligent species. Not sentient intelligent, but intelligent enough to hunt as efficiently as any sentient being. They have strategy. Resourcefulness. These insects were no different. Their little hands can actually grip and wield weapons or tools. Sounds absolutely loony, but there's a lot of loony stuff in the UUniverses. No one seems keen on fighting them, but they're too close to outrun. Hopefully they'll just pass us by.
  +
*Hudson:... M-Lucus?
  +
*Xandy: It's a species of giant mangrid. Call them, insect raptors.
  +
*Hudson:... I see.
  +
*Xandy:... Ooh. Uh, Hudson, your comment about a savior from the sky riding a dracthonsaur... May not be accurate. Apparently the people get it all the time. Listen to this.
  +
*(Heili): My hopes that the M-Lucuses would ignore the village were unfounded, and I think we were all wondering if this morning's sunrise would be our last. Despite all my practice, my rifle felt heavy and foreign in my shaking hands as the swarm advanced. Fortunately, they weren't our only visitors. The villagers erupted in cheers as lightning and fire tore through the advancing insects from above. Some chanted a name: The Rayburn Skyrider. The rider, still hidden behind black robes, didn't acknowledge the ovation. With swift efficiency, their small flight of Dracthysaurs decimated the M-Lucus swarm and made for the horizon.... Now that I think about it, she must have been how I survived that fall here from the floating tower. The Rayburn Skyrider.... I need to meet this person, if only to thank them.
  +
*Xandy:... Well, I suppose she's gonna get a new friend.
  +
*Hudson: "I would imagine so."
  +
*(Heili): Just who or what the Skyrider is depends on who you ask. Some of the villagers have attached a religious connotation to the figure, believing it to be some sort of heavenly guardian who appears to worthy in their time of need. One villager is even convinced it's an extraterrestrial. I don't deal in beliefs. I deal in empirical evidence, and that means nothing about the Skyrider is certain until I can meet the figure. I won't forget this village's kindness, especially after granting me a Limel and supplies for my journey, but this is why I'm here: to find answers.
  +
*Hudson: Well then go find them!
  +
*Xandy: (She giggles) Are you trying to make me laugh because you like it?
  +
*Hudson: I don't know, am I? (Xandy laughed harder before she continues reading)
  +
*(Heili): I'm definitely more prepared for this desert than before, and better equipped. With my Limel offering a large, mobile supply of water and Scanny looking out for the weather, the only threat I really have to worry about is major predators. Also giant Roks. I'm actually impressed with the shape I'm in, if I do say so myself. I think I even saw some ab definition the other day. Took me long enough. I've been living without sweets for ages, after all, You'd think I'd get fit much quicker. Great, now I miss sweets. The things I'd to do taste chooclate again...
  +
*Xandy: Well, maybe that's a good thing.
  +
*(Heili): It took weeks of searching, but I finally caught a glimpse of the Rayburn Skyrider. I knew I was getting close when I found a series of fulgurite formations this morning, and sure enough, I spotted several Dracthysaurs later in the afternoon with a lone rider among them. The rider clearly saw me too, because soon enough the Dracthysaurs were circling overhead. I waved and yelled in greeting, even calling out Meya's name just in case. Yet without so much as a nod, the Dracthysaurs regrouped and flew off. Rayburn's not a social cosmofly it seems, but I'm not letting them off the hook that easily.
  +
*Xandy: Wow. She had to climb big terrain to get to creatures that would so OBVIOUSLY spend time at high altitudes because, you know, THEY CAN FLY!
  +
*Hudson: Okay, are you trying to give ME the laugh virus?
  +
*Xandy: I dunno, am I?... (The two laughed together before they continued reading)
  +
*(Heili): Of course Rayburn lives on a bloody mountain. Of course they do. I saw their Dracthysaurs land at the summit yesterday, and they haven't left. This has to be their home... Unfortunately.
  +
*Hudson: See?
  +
*(Heili): The paths were too narrow for my Limel, so I had to leave it behind. It should know to wander off if I don't return for it, not that I can really afford to worry about it. The climb's doing a fine job of kicking my ass even without distractions. I swear, if I don't have a six pack after climbing a mountain in the bloody desert, I'm going to be awfully cross.
  +
*Xandy: Oh, I bet this 'Rayburn' person's got a LOTTA wawa to go around.
  +
*(Heili): I don't know what kind of reception I expected when I reached the summit, but laughter wasn't one of them. Yet that was exactly what I heard when I finally let myself collapse and started flinging every obscenity I could think of at this damned mountain: the bemused laughter of an old woman. The Rayburn Skyrider is definitely no guardian angel. She was quick to dismiss those particular rumors with remarks about how the gods have abandoned this wretched place. As long I avoided that subject though, she's welcomed my questions with surprising warmth, though often enigmatically. I have a feeling that I'll need to be patient with her.
  +
*Hudson: Huh? The Skyrider's old?... Well, good on her for keeping herself fit and agile.
  +
*Xandy: Well she says that the Skyrider is an Invervasaur. They can stay physically fit even when on borrowed time.
  +
*Hudson: Lucky reptiles.
  +
*(Heili): It turns out that I didn't find the Skyrider. She found me. I was right. She WAS the one who saved me from that fall here. According to Rayburn, it was easy for her to spot me falling and screaming from atop her Dracthysaur, and she started tailing me soon afterwards and saved me the moment I fainted from fright. I guess her timely interventions were no coincidence. She didn't seem very surprised when I told her about the obelisks, their guardians or even that this desert is actually a controlled and contained environment. Either she knows more than she's saying, or experience has grinded the surprise right out of her.
  +
*Xandy:... Seems this Skyrider knows more than she lets on.
  +
*Hudson: Clearly.
  +
*(Heili): I really missed flying. There's no replicating the feeling, and no replacement for seeing a sunrise amongst the clouds. Rayburn probably started these Dracthysaur riding sessions just to give herself an escape hatch when our conversations get too personal, but I can't say I mind. Despite their appearance, riding a Dracthysaur is just as pleasant as riding a Pteriornis, even without a saddle. By design, perhaps? No matter. Genetically redesigned or not, they are magnificent creatures. It's a risky proposition, but I absolutely must observe them in the wild sometime. I can't pass up an opportunity like that.
  +
*Hudson: (Chuckles) Nerds these days and their addiction to science, am I right? (He and Sandy chuckled)
  +
*(Heili): Now that Rayburn has deemed my Dracthysaur riding skills acceptable, she's finally agreed to show me around the region. From what I can gather, she's been here for a very long time, maybe longer than Stonewell was on the island. She knows the history of every village and ruin. Apparently there was once a great city to the southeast, but it was wiped out at some point. She's still mum on a lot of details, but I'll just have to keep prying. Scanny's been helpful in that regard. Rayburn definitely seems to be in a better mood when the fuzzball's around. That little charmer's certainly earned her keep.
  +
*Xandy: Uh-huh.
  +
*(Heili): I'm grateful that Rayburn allows me time to study the local wildlife, but I suspect she only does so out of amusement. She always says something like, "Why do you spend so much time on these scribbles that no one will read?" I never have a good retort. It's true that no one else may ever read my dossiers, as I have no way to reproduce or distribute them as long as they're trapped in on one of these contained environments. When I started them, they were a passion project, created out of my love for nature and its creatures. Now? I guess they're just part of my identity. Writing them helps remind me who I am. I am Heili Runner, daughter of late renowned archaeologist Johnna Runner.
  +
*Xandy:... Well, lucky SOMEONE came across them, huh? (The two laughed)
  +
*(Heili): I can't believe it! Rayburn spotted someone wandering in the desert the other day, and it turned out to be none other than Edwyn Stonewell! I just about burst into tears when I recognized him. Apparently, he heard that Nervay was holding me captive and sought to negotiate my release. That lead him to the cave, and eventually he wound up here. Awfully sweet of him to go through all that trouble for my sake! Strangely, Rayburn claims that she saw a portal open up far away from her territory shortly before I fell into the desert. I guess that was Stonewell, though Rayburn arrived at the scene too late to track him. Stonewell theorized that the portals may have taken us through time as well as space. Considering my present company, I'm inclined to agree with him.
  +
*Hudson:... Hmm. I guess that's much of a coincidence.
  +
*Xandy: Yeah.... Maybe even... TOO coincidental?
  +
*(Heili): Rayburn has been much quieter since we found Stonewell. I guess she's just letting us catch up. However, she did say something interesting when we were recounting Nervay's ambitions for the island. "This place would never allow anyone to master it." she said, and when I asked her to explain, she told me that the great city to the southeast was destroyed by the obelisk itself. Now it's just conjecture, but it's interesting to think about. Could the curators of these stations be monitoring human behavior and clipping its wings should the survivors ever band together and fly too close to the sun? If each station represents a different group in a larger experiment, "resetting" sentient progress would make a lot of sense. It's a bit grim though, isn't it? Yikes.
  +
*Xandy:... Why would these environments do that?
  +
*Hudson: How should I know? Not much is known about why the Scyrians built these contained environments. Maybe it's to plan for their return? Or to reterraform the planet when they come back? I dunno.
  +
*(Heili): I don't think Stonewell's been sleeping much. I awoke last night to find him studying a strange piece of metal by firelight. I guess some tribe gave it to him as a gift, along with a very familiar looking artifact. I insisted that we show those items to Rayburn, and she recognized them as the property of this station's lone guardian. With all that she knows, I'm not surprised that she's activated the obelisks before. Hell, it sounds like the old battle axe has even slain the beast herself. She said it was a creature called a 'Mantilovia'. Since we have said guardian's artifact, Rayburn says that we can leave this station at any time. I suppose we may as well. Stonewell's eager to depart, and as much as I like Rayburn, I've had my fill of sand.
  +
*Xandy:... Well, I guess that was a good story, but there's a few pages left.
  +
*(Heili): The transporter that can take us back to the "control center" station is in the ruins of another city, south of the mountains. Rayburn believes that it was destroyed by the obelisks, just like the city in the southeast. I didn't press her for details, not that I'd have gotten any. Rayburn's more tight-lipped about those ruins than anything. I had to practically beg her to take me to the southeastern city, and while we were there, she spent most of her time just gazing out into the distance. No sense in bringing her mood down with that rubbish now. After all that she's done for me, I'd like give her a nice, proper farewell. But before we could go further, seems that the Mantilovia had followed us outside into the desert. Apparently, Stonewell had collected more of that strange metal he had before, and something about it is angering the giant beast. My answers to why Rayburn was so down about the southeastern city when a stranger came in and saved us. It was a subterranean wild-accented Mephean who tamed a plethora of subterranean lizards, and it was someone whom Rayburn knew and loved, and thought was dead. We were able to drive the creature back into it's home when Stonewell needed serious persuasion. The man was more stubborn than I remember. What happened, I don't know. Maybe it was the metal? Regardless, our lives were saved.
  +
*Xandy:... Yikes.
  +
*Hudson: I couldn't have said that better.
  +
*Xandy: Yes you could've.
  +
*Hudson: Eh, you're right.
  +
*Xandy: Kay, last page.
  +
*(Heili): Having seen us through the ruins after that Mantilovia attack, and safely to the platform, Rayburn and her Mephean subterranean lover had taken their leave. After doing so much for me, I was sad to see her and this new bloke I just met go, but at least I got her to smile before she left with him. Well, me and Scanny. I can't very well take the little critter with me, so I officially gave Rayburn and the Mephean ownership of her. They'll be good for each other, I think. Gah, I wrote "Rayburn" and "Mephean" up there. Twice! I suppose old habits die hard, but they're not really their name, are they? I always knew that was the case, but she'd never told me to call her anything else. At least not until now. Well at any rate... Cheers, Rav. And... Cheers, Johno. It was a pleasure to have known you... And you for a brief time after saving us.... What a strange history they shared.
  +
*Xandy:... Interesting.
  +
*Hudson: Well, who these 'Rav' and 'Johno' people are, I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.
  +
*Xandy: Yeah. And look, she says she has ANOTHER journal somewhere else.
  +
*Hudson:... I guess we have ourselves hunting for a story, huh?
  +
*Xandy: Looks like it.
   
  +
(Later...) Lapse Wastes
  +
*Xandy: Oh, son of a gun, Hud, you won't believe this, but I FOUND ANOTHER JOURNAL FROM HEILI!!
  +
*Hudson: OH WOW WHO WOULD'VE GUESSED?!? (The two laughed hysterically)
  +
*Xandy: I think we both caught the laugh virus today.
  +
*Hudson: Maybe we have. You still have a beautiful laugh.
  +
*Xandy: Oh, stop it! Let's just read this sucker. (They opened the book and read)
  +
*(Heili): Bloody hell, this place is weird. Don't get me wrong, it's fascinating too. Such an abundance of underground flora is completely unheard of, and because so many of the plants here are bioluminescent, the whole forest has an eerie beauty to it. That's just it though. 'Eerie' is the operative word. I've been holding my rifle so tightly since we got here that I swear I've left dents in the grip. We should have gone back to the island first before coming here. People know us there, they might have preferred help and supplies as much as we did. Stonewell didn't want to hear it though, and I wasn't about to let him come here alone.
  +
*Xandy:... Hmm. Looks like they wasted no time coming here.
  +
*Hudson: I know. This place IS beautiful... Despite all the poisonous spores, gases, radiation, and other stuff.
  +
*(Heili): "You can't surprise me anymore, life," I said. "After all the hodgepodge of things I have seen, I'm ready for anything." "What about flying squid-battus-murder-monsters?" life replied. "Well, that is mildly surprising," I conceded. By which I mean, I shot and cursed at those things all afternoon. At least, when I wasn't running from them. Thankfully after thinning their numbers a little, they decided that Stonewell and I weren't worth the trouble. Let's hope they don't change their minds. I'm not sure I have enough ammunition left to fend them off again. And yes, I know that FSBMM isn't the most scientific of monikers, but I'm bloody upset with them right now so that's what I'm calling them... Along with some other names I'd rather not write down.
  +
*Hudson: (Chuckles) She seems to have an ounce of humor inside of her.
  +
*Xandy: (Chuckles) I know. Maybe she's the one infecting us with the laugh virus. (They both laughed before they continue reading)
  +
*(Heili): While I can't say I'm enamored with this station's wildlife, I'm certainly grateful for its abundance of natural resources, particularly water. The permeability of the rocks here is astounding. The cavern walls are wet with condensation, and the floor is littered with pools of water. After all that time in the desert, this is one change I can welcome with open arms! Thank Gods for hydration! I don't mean that just for my own sake, either. Stonewell seems... Distracted. The other day, I had to keep him from walking headlong into a poisonous mushroom. He wouldn't fare well in a harsher environment. Then again, at his age, I'm sure I'd lose a step too.
  +
*Hudson:... Well, at least she's taking this utopian hell with stride.
  +
*(Heili): There's no mistaking it. That was a giant, armored subterranean rodent. Thankfully it wasn't aggressive, so I was able to get a good look at it. It's appearance made me realize something that I'd taken for granted. Much of the creatures I've encountered has some basis on either a known species, or legend. Like the FSBMMs (still cross with them), as they appear to be a pastiche of known fauna. The Scyrians seemed like they weren't just genetically reshaping animals, but were genetic engineering in general. What does that mean? Am I grasping at straws here with how much the Scyrians knew or did? I can't say, but it's worth pondering. Especially since I heard Stonewell muttering something about an 'Adytum Project', whatever that is.
  +
*Hudson:... Clifton and Samantha were talking about Stonewell knowing what that is.
  +
*Xandy: They did. But, they seemed a little uneased 'bout how Stonewell did his things.
  +
*Hudson: Well, we would too after we heard them.
  +
*(Heili): The FSBMMs returned, and I was right. I didn't have the firepower to fight them. Luckily someone else did. It was incredible! I've never seen a sentient being move that fast... Or at least in my still-young days alive. One second, I'm a dead woman, and the next there's someone in glowing, silver armor tearing through those creatures like they were sodos. One got punched so hard it skipped off the cavern floor. As if a super savior wasn't shocking enough, when they lifted their visor, I found a familiar face. It was Meya! It took me a good minute to form a sentence after that. I must have looked like a complete dipstick, because I swear, she almost laughed. At least I'm a living dipstick, and with her around, I just might stay that way.
  +
*Xandy:... Well, I'm relieved Meya is still alive... But how? Oh wait, she explains it on this page.
  +
*(Heili): What's the saying? Absence makes the heart grow fonder? On the island, I wasn't sure where I stood with Meya, but now we've been catching up like best mates. She apologized for socking me in the face, I learned how she arrived here and that she got her new scar while battling Nervay to the death. You know. Best mate things. She said that Nervay died when being encroached on the surface above, as it seems that the sky above it has lost it's ozone layer, causing it to be scorched with radiation. She also introduced us to some of her new allies at her camp, and here's where it gets loony... At least to me... Most of them are UIS races. Particularly the head, Dinia, who is a Skorner, my race's most hated rival race. Though I naturally kept my distance, it seemed she didn't have time for racial concerns. But what also perplexed me was her name: Dinia Altories. Skorners had a much more sparse name design. That means she was orphaned.... Either that or her parents wanted to branch off their races' traditional naming style. Whatever the case, it sure made me think.
  +
*Xandy:... Impressive. I guess Solus' endeavors were around before he even joined us.
  +
*Hudson: Well, this 'Dinia' person seems too concerned with something else to be concerned about such an immediate concern like their races' relations.
  +
*(Heili): The journey to the village was a bit tricky. Since Stonewell and I lack the high-tech armor the others wear, they had to help us along with rope ladders and zip-lines. We made it eventually though, and it's quite the sight. The technology this tribe uses is incredible, although Stonewell was far more intrigued by it than I was. Dinia gave us the grand tour and he pelted her with questions the whole time. Fortunately, Dinia just smiled and answered his questions patiently. Apparently she was a pilot in her prime. But I don't understand how I never knew that the UIS were establishing their own contained environments like the Tiikons were, and how I hardly met a single UIS-oriented race until now. It just gets curiouser and curiouser as I go, doesn't it?
  +
*Hudson:... I'm amazed by that, too.
  +
*Xandy: Yeah, you'd think she'd meet at least ONE UIS-loyal race.
  +
*(Heili): I have to convince them to stop! There's no way the station will allow this. "This place would never allow anyone to master it." If it weren't for Rav's warning, I'd be ecstatic about what they were creating. A gateway that can help them escape the environment that was not just contained by science, but by nature and the geological formations around us and reach some kind of strange signal location? It's brilliant, but the obelisks will kill everyone here before we can complete it, just like they destroyed the village Rav told me about. I'm sure of it. Bloody hell, I'm going to look like an absolute madwoman. I've barely settled in here and I'm already coming to them with doomsday prophecies. I'll need to convince Meya and Dinia first. They're my best bet.
  +
*Xandy:... Huh?... This place is THAT contained? I mean, granted, the way we got in almost killed us, but, wow.
  +
*(Heili): The tribe's leadership was surprisingly receptive to my ideas, but still a bit skeptical, and not just because I was a Tiikon, which I'm sure they've grown numb to at this point. Apparently they've already fiddled with one of the obelisks, and even damaged this station's control center. So while they believe my account of what happened in the desert, they think the threat is already contained. Thankfully Dinia convinced them to lend me a small team to inspect the obelisk, just in case. Better than nothing, at least. However, here, getting to an obelisk is something of a risky proposition. They rest on the irradiated surface above. That means before I go, I'll need to get a crash course on that armor.
  +
*Xandy:... She just cannot catch a break, huh?
  +
*Hudson: Not many can on this planet, Xandy.
  +
*(Heili): My time in the desert may have given me some skill with firearms and helped me get fit, despite failing to give me washboard abs much to my chagrin, but I'm still no soldier. That was evident to anyone who saw me flailing around in the training yard these past few days. If it weren't for Meya and Dinia, I'd still be crashing my high-tech armor into rocks or tripping over myself like a drunken sodo. Plus, I always feel less silly when there's someone to laugh at my mistakes along with me. Fortunately Meya will be accompanying me to the obelisks, so this whole thing won't rest in my unsteady, armored hands. Thank Gods!
  +
*Xandy:... But at least she's not catching no breaks alone.
  +
*Hudson: Nopesy do.
  +
*(Heili): Meya and I set out yesterday, alongside Dinia's boyfriend, a bespectacled computer expert named Santrago. He'll be the one to actually examine the obelisk. He claims that he can hack into its terminal. If it's preparing to unleash a surge of power, as I suspect, then he says that he might be able to reroute it. Stonewell, for his part, is staying behind. He's been aiding the village's scientists in their studies since we arrived and has become rather... Engrossed. Every other sentence with him is about that bloody metal he named after himself. It's a bit troubling, but thankfully Dinia said she'd look after him. I can't spend time worrying after Stonewell now, though. The fate of that whole village might depend on this expedition. Focus up, Heili! Let's do this!
  +
*Xandy:... I have a feeling-
  +
*Hudson: That this'll define who they really are? I'm with you, Xandy.... Oh, look at us, we're finishing each other's sentences. (They laughed, but then stopped).... Let's not turn into THOSE kinds of couples, it gets creepy and/or annoying after awhile.
  +
*Xandy: "Ditto."
  +
*(Heili): The structure of this environment must be vastly different from the others to allow for these massive caverns. Is that uncommon, or do many of the environments vary so radically from one another? I've only seen three. For all I know, they could come in all shapes and sizes. This one is contained naturally as well as scientifically. It's inside a closed cave system and the only exit is through complex aquifers filled with alien-looking marine worms. Speaking of different, Meya's been fairly talkative since we left, at least for her. She'll still grow quiet sometimes, but instead of trying to burn me to death with invisible eye lasers, she stares into the distance and idly fiddles with her necklace. I think it depicts a plane or spaceship of some kind. I wonder where she got it?
  +
*Hudson:... At least she knows what we had to go through. Those worms are MERCILESS!
  +
*(Heili): The surface is more radioactive than I thought. Then again, the sun is different than one I would see as normal. Direct exposure to THIS kind of sunlight during the day will quickly burn a sentient being to a crisp, even in this fancy armor. Nervay must've been through absolute HELL when he died here. That means we have to adjust our sleep schedules and wait just below the surface until night falls. When it does, we'll make a mad dash for the obelisk, let Santrago get in as much work as he dares, then run our asses back to safety. Strewth! I thought that bloody desert was diabolical, but this tops it for sure! Why couldn't we do something simple, like flee from a pack of ravenous tyrannuses or something? This life I lead, I swear...
  +
*Hudson: Oh that radioactive desert is as merciless as those worms for sure.
  +
*(Heili): Santrago's still going over his readings from last night, but even without them, it seems clear that the obelisk was behaving oddly. It was pulsing wildly and the ground beneath it received regular tremors, as if the whole place was on the verge of tearing itself apart. If this obelisk goes off, it could mean armageddon for every living thing inside those caverns. Despite this, Santrago is insisting on analyzing his readings. The scientist in me is proud of his dedication to hard evidence, but the part of me that would rather not be obliterated by a mysterious, high tech barrier really wishes he would hurry the hell up.
  +
*Xandy:... Heh. We would too, frankly.
  +
*(Heili): We shared our findings with the village by Holonet. Santrago's analysis confirmed what I suspected. The obelisks are highly unstable. They could be days away from reacting. However, Santrago raised a good point. Even if the Escape Project is shut down, we can't say for sure that it would stabilize the obelisks. It may be too late to dissuade the barricade from destroying the village. The only way to ensure our survival is to shut down the obelisks themselves. Johno DID say this place looked unstable, and he was really onto something. According to Santrago, we can't do that from the obelisk's platforms, but he may be able to manipulate said platforms into teleporting us somewhere we could. Specifically? Into the heart of the environment's master matrix itself. It's a huge risk, but it may be the only hope we have.
  +
*Xandy:... Let's hope she makes it.
  +
*Hudson: Yeah, let's.
   
[[File: ARK Extinction - Expansion Pack Official Launch Trailer|thumb|center|250px]]
+
===='''Who Is Edwyn Stonewell?'''====
==Scenes==
+
Jungle
Coming soon...
+
*Clifton:... Where'd you get this, Sam?
  +
*Samantha: Found it in some kind of fancy chest.... It's the journal of a man named... Sir Edwyn Stonewell.
  +
*Clifton:... I've heard that name a lot on this mission. Well... I guess it's about time we found out why, and even why people don't like hearing it.
  +
*Samantha:... (Sighs)... Well... Probably a good idea. (They read)
  +
*(Stonewell): Greetings and salutations dear reader!
  +
*Samantha: "Okay, who other then themselves has expected people would read these things?"
  +
*Clifton: "Well this just screams egoist."
  +
*(Stonewell): If these words are gracing your eyes, then you have had the good fortune to find the journal of Sir Edwyn Stonewell, stupendous scholar, gallant gentleman and explorer extraordinaire. It also means that it’s entirely possible that I’ve met some unseemly end on this fascinating but exceedingly dangerous planet that I call home. I suppose you could have also stolen it or I could have misplaced it in which case please proceed to either hang your head in shame or return it to me at once. Whichever is appropriate. Regards, Sir Edwyn Stonewell.
  +
*Clifton:... Dafuq?... Yeesh, this guy has an ''interesting'' opinion on himself.
  +
*Samantha:... Samest assured belief that he's an egoist.
  +
*(Stonewell): The wondrous properties of the flora on this island will never cease to amaze me. Glad I drugged my parents before they could take this golden opportunity of research first. Otherwise, if I’d told my colleagues back home that I could create a concoction capable of erasing someone’s memories, I’d be laughed out of the room and never invited to tea again for being such a ripoff of my own kin. Yet here it sits: my Mindfreshening Tonic. As usual, I’ve had tribal leaders grovelling at the gates of Stonewell Manor just for the tiniest of samples, and for the recipe? Oh the bounties I’ve been offered! I’m not interested in their riches though. I have their protection, supplies for my studies and all the time in the world. What more could I ask for?
  +
*Samantha:... He seems really morally grey.
  +
*Clifton: That is debatable, cause I still get "Egoist" from this guy.
  +
*(Stonewell): These tribal negotiations give me a headache every time. The Blackhands are mad that the Dyesharks sunk two of their barges, but the Dyesharks say that the barges were too close to Southern Haven and they were perfectly within their rights to sink them as per The South Island Accords. Typically, neither side is willing to budge. What a bother. I’d just as soon find fresh the lot of them and return to my studies. Alas, such is the fate of the island’s most respected neutral entity. At least the Dyesharks brought some fresh fish. Perhaps I’ll side with them.
  +
*Samantha:... He also seems to have some... Hoity-toityness to him.
  +
*Clifton: "I'd go for "Snobby Asshole"."
  +
*(Stonewell): Any chemist worth his salt knows the irreplaceable value of testing. Until a tonic has been rigorously tested, it is less useful than water. If only I could persuade this island’s less intellectual inhabitants to see that tests on monkeys serve well for early trials, but they are no replacement for genuine sentient subjects at later, safer stages. By subjects, I of course mean willing participants that are prepared to risk mild headaches and much less mild nausea for the sake of science. The Rock Skulls offered rather less willing participants at one point, but I declined. With how difficult it is to find volunteers these days, I sometimes regret it.
  +
*Clifton:... He, tested his experiments, on his own guests?!
  +
*Samantha: There goes that "Morally Grey" statement, I guess. It's abit more darker than expected in some areas.
  +
*Clifton: All he had to do was ask!
  +
*Samantha: In all fairness Clifton, what do we know about how this world works? If it was nicer, we wouldn't even need to be here.
  +
*(Stonewell): Miss Runner's impromptu visits are always an unexpected pleasure. Especially since her mother was quite as smart as they come. Johnna Runner was studying the Scyrian precursors of this planet for decades. So after that headache with the Sharks and Blackhands, a lively tea-time discussion about the abnormalities of the island's ecosystem was precisely what I needed. Thank goodness I've managed to find an intellectual colleague that shares my love for the sciences. It saddens me to think that Miss Runner's charming colonial accent would keep her out of the more prestigious institutions and societies back home. Another of the Island's wonders, it is a true meritocracy unlike any in the modern world. If Miss Runner and I could find and cultivate more minds like ourselves, we could create a true scientific utopia.
  +
*Clifton: Ya know, I haven't even physically met the dude, but even just READING about him has that veil of me imagining his face being punchable!
  +
*Samantha: I would imagine that this man is a sort-of pariah in this world.
  +
*(Stonewell): This expedition to Whitewind Peak has been just splendid, top to bottom. The weather's been marvelous, I've found excellent floral samples and the local hunters had more Wooloceros horns than you could shake a stick at. I even managed to find volunteers for my latest experiment! It turns out that it was simply a matter of linguistics: those who are wary of experimental serums are much more receptive to experimental food. Once my Omnithermic Pastes were renamed Frosser Curry, people were clamoring to test it. It has moderate nutritional value, so it's not technically a deception. It's just favorable language in the name of progress, that's all. Perfectly moral.
  +
*Clifton: Ya might want a second opinion on that, doc!
  +
*Samantha: I believe it's obvious he's trying to comfort himself in his actions and delude himself into thinking these are necessary evils. This man is of troubled mind and soul.
  +
*Clifton: "I'm thinking more along the lines of him being JACKSHIT INSANE?!"
  +
*Samantha: "Well if you are to be vulgar about it, then yes."
  +
*Clifton: Oh don't act like ya don't agree other than because ya try to be polite due to Magilo-User policy and stuff. He even drugged his own parents to take credit for this research first? I don't think anybody is THAT egomaniacal.
  +
*Samantha: Pride can be a powerful and dangerious vice.
  +
*(Stonewell): Sadly my Frosser Curry trials cannot begin immediately as the volunteers have a much more difficult journey to Stonewell Manor than I. After all, I couldn't very well carry every one of them on Achitans. Yes, the Pteriornis could clutch one with his talons, but I've always found the practice to be barbaric. The rest of the island may be embroiled in feudal savagery, but a gentleman always maintains his class and dignity. At any rate, I must have my assistants renovate the guest compound. Naturally, I would never let strangers into the manor proper, but there's no reason there stay should not affect my civilized standards.
  +
*Clifton: Wow, he couldn't even get his victims to come to his place. Pfft, what a maroon.
  +
*Samantha: "I don't believe this is a matter of him being intellectually inferior as more like the natives have proven, weary."
  +
*(Stonewell): Having readily available subjects has helped my experiments tremendously even if their numbers dwindled over time. Not only was I able to curb the side effects of my Frosser Curry's endothermic properties, but I managed to bring out an additional benefit of the mixture. Now, it also lowers the subject's metabolism, letting them go longer without needing food. Marvelous! I hadn't even considered that as a possibility. Why, with all I've learned from these experiments, I imagine that I could reverse the effects of the Curry and create a concoction to aid survival in extreme heat as well. I must find more volunteers posthaste.
  +
*Clifton: JUST ASK, YOU BUMBLING MANIPULATOR!
  +
*Samantha: Clifton, you think he hasn't tried? He was clearly getting abit of a reputation at this point."
  +
*Clifton: Hey, this is just wrong. Scientists have standards, you know.
  +
*Samantha:  "Well perhaps being in this strange world compromised his better judgment."
  +
*Clifton: Ya too gentle on this hack, Sam! I hope this guy's dead, or at least his acts got him in trouble.
  +
*Samantha: "Ahem! I would've chosen saying "I hope Karma made a desired judgment on him"."
  +
*(Stonewell): I decided to seek out volunteers for my next experiment among the island's larger tribes. I thought that surely they would be willing to help after I patiently moderated so many of their frivolous disputes. How idealistic of me. Instead, they have yet another favor to ask. Apparently there's a new tribe that's behaving rather aggressively and no one can successfully negotiate with its leader. So naturally they have turned to me. It's rather bothersome, but I can't touch their logic. If Sir Edwyn Stonewell cannot reason with this Nervay fellow, then who can?
  +
*Clifton:... A conqueror tribe?
  +
*Samantha: Better keep reading to be safe.
  +
*Clifton: Good idea. (They kept reading)
  +
*(Stonewell): Well, I found the report on Mister Nervay to be rather exaggerated, and as any gentleman one might imagine that I'd view imperial leadership with some disdain. Yet in my experience, I found Mister Nervay to be both honest and intellectually engaging....Orat least Mr. Nervay TRIES. In fact, after a lengthy conversation, I daresay that Mister Nervay has the right of it when it comes to this island's politics. He argued that this island needed to be more civilized and he even wishes to escape the island and expand, especially since his family was stranded there for, get this, eons. That means they originated from the days of the Scyrians. I doubt his endeavors will harm my research, so I see no reason to interfere in this pointless squabble.
  +
*Clifton:... He's agreeing, with a conqueror?
  +
*Samantha: I'm guessing he was able to relate better with a fellow pariah.
  +
*Clifton: Not when the people who negotiate or use it are too dense to have a proper conscience.
  +
*Samantha: (Sighs and kept reading)
  +
*(Stonewell): How can these tribal leaders be so short-sighted? Yes, the members of their respective tribes who volunteered for my Combat Tartare and Strengthening Sauté experiments have been experiencing prolonged withdrawal episodes, but can't they see that the benefits outweigh the costs?
  +
*Clifton: "Well maybe the costs were TOO UGLY to cope with for any legit plus-sides, dorkinstein!"
  +
*(Stonewell): I create mixtures that can bring out enhanced strength, speed and coordination in ordinary men and they can only focus on the negatives. Simple-minded, the lot of them!
  +
*Clifton: "Well again, maybe these were SOME REALLY BAD NEGATIVES for them to be all like "NOPE"!"
  +
*Samantha: "Sometimes scientists worry more about long-term good over short-term and intermediate inconveniences like what was happening with the persons."
  +
*(Stonewell): They even banned their members from partaking in my experiments now. Ridiculous! I'll not let them stand in the way of sentient progress. They may not understand the importance of my work, but surely my assistants do.
  +
*Clifton: Well, it's about TIME they opened their eyes. I hope he got what he deserved.
  +
*Samantha:... Well, there's still more entries, so your dark desires are left unfulfilled at the moment.
  +
*(Stonewell): I've decided to take a brief vacation from the laboratory. Well, I say that I've decided to, but the whole thing was my assistant Isabellene's idea. She noticed that I'd been quite ruffled lately and suggested that I take a bit of time to myself before rushing headlong into my next experiment. Such an observant young woman, that Isabellene. She's somewhat lacking as a chemist, but she understands my moods almost better than I do. I daresay that an old fashioned adventure will do me some good. Nothing like some rigorous recreation to clear the mind. Perhaps I'll go spelunking. Yes, a splendid idea! I know just the place for it.
  +
*Samantha:... At least he still has some gentlemanly dignity.
  +
*Clifton: Sure, like THAT justifies his immoral scientific code.
  +
*Samantha: "Clifton, by all means, I'm no fan of his motivations neither, but continuous judging makes for the kind of people that Stonewell ended up being. I suspect his sanity was dwindling cause of always being rejected, even if you had found them reasonable or not."
  +
*Clifton: ".... Okay, fair point."
  +
*(Stonewell): Remarkable. Absolutely remarkable! When I chose that remote northern cave as the site of my spectacular spelunking sojourn, I'd never imagined that I'd find such wonders within. Granted, I don't know what this specific wonder does exactly, but it's fascinating to examine. It's like nothing I've ever seen! I don't even recognize the materials that it's composed of, and it's constantly pulsing with some sort of latent energy. What is it? Is it unique or are there similar artifacts just waiting to be discovered beneath the island's surface? My, how invigorating! Isabellene was right, this was exactly what I needed. I feel like a young Chredder again!
  +
*Clifton:... Oh, so he's a Chredder.
  +
*Samantha: You were wondering that?
  +
*Clifton: Yeah, people all over the UUniverses are so mix-matched these days. It becomes an instinct you have to know what they are, because next thing you know, when you mock someone before seeing what they are, they'll be as big as a whule and kick your ass.
  +
*Samantha: Let us resume the book.
  +
*(Stonewell): Eureka! My theory was correct. The small podium at the base of the obelisk is definitely responding to the artifact's proximity and vice versa. Honestly I feel foolish for not attempting this sooner! The stylistic similarities between the artifacts and the obelisks floating above the island seems so obvious to me now. Clearly they were created within the same culture and era. Bizarrely, while both the artifact and obelisks are in exquisite condition, there are no other signs of this mysterious civilization. How could that be? What kind of mad society would gallivant about some remote island, building towering structures and stuffing knickknacks into caves before vanishing without a trace? I don't understand it, but it's certainly piqued my curiosity.
  +
*Clifton: Get in line, Ched-head, there's plenty who have done the same.
  +
*Samantha: (Sighs) Clifton, I can't say I'm a fan of this person myself, but can you get over it already? It's been years since this was written.
  +
*(Stonewell): Well, I think I've gotten as far in my studies of the obelisks as my archaeological expertise will take me. A shame, really. This has been such a joyous little diversion that I hate to see it end. Ah Stonewell, you old twit. You've forgotten the origins of this little excursion: spelunking. Did you yourself not hypothesize that there may be more artifacts hidden elsewhere on this island? Surely you can't give up before confirming that. No, certainly not, nor can I be expected to scour the island's corners alone. Perhaps someone can spelunk in my stead? Better yet, perhaps someone has already spelunked!
  +
*Clifton:... Let's see where he goes with this, because I think we might get information on this Scyrian technology.
  +
*Samantha: Good thinking. Though I must caution'd that it may get darker from here.
  +
*(Stonewell): After many days of scouring the island upon Achitans and many more fruitless conversations with the witless, savage sods that seem to make up most of this island's population, I have finally found the spelunkers I need! A tribe to the northwest called the Steel Brotherhood has apparently found three artifacts themselves, and it's clear that said relics share an origin with my own. In exchange for my artifact, the Brotherhood agreed to report any findings to me straight away as they continue their search. What stupendously good fortune! Now I can return to my alchemical studies with renewed vigor, while they crawl through the island's caverns in my stead. Brilliant.
  +
*Clifton:... Okay, I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but using people for your own needs?... I mean, I don't think it's using them, but... Okay, you know what? I'm done arguing about his morals. They're still as gray as the sky right now.
  +
*Samantha: Thank you for keeping an open head, Cliff. I love you for it. And if it helps, as before, he's not my favorite person either. As A magilo, I just make myself above anger and being offended by undesirable actions. Doesn't mean my dissatisfaction has to be unknown.
  +
*Clifton: You love me period.
  +
*Samantha: (Chuckles as they kept reading)
  +
*(Stonewell): The first round of trials for my new Lazereus Chowder have gone marvelously, but I have found it hard to maintain my enthusiasm. After all, I will never get truly definitive results with only primitive primate subjects. It is quite frustrating. Even so, I see now that Isabellene was right. Having my assistants take part in the trials would be asking too much of them, and they are too valuable to risk so frivolously. If I cannot find sentient subjects from the nearby tribes, then I shall have to make do with trials on greater apes that are a close second. Perhaps it is finally time to capture some Pithecuses...
  +
*Clifton:... Good for you, you're starting to get more moral. Why was I ever angry at this person?
  +
*Samantha: "Be cautious though, he might have a turnaround later."
  +
*(Stonewell): I admit there are times when it is useful to live among simpletons. For example, I was able to trade several gallons of my Lazereus Chowder to a group of hunters in exchange for an entire contingent of tamed Pithecuses, and they never questioned whether it had been tested on sentient beings yet. Well, I suppose if they return with another batch of apes, then I'll know that Lazereus Chowder doesn't cause asphyxiation, won't I? It's not exactly a conclusive, scientific trial, but I suppose it will serve. Unfortunately all these bigger primates have given Stonewell Manor quite the pungent odor. Isabellene said she is working on some sort of air freshener, but I hope she makes haste.
  +
*Clifton: Well, keep trying, good sir. Failure is the best teacher.
  +
*(Stonewell): I am perplexed. Even with an expanded number of test subjects, I just cannot find the passion that I once had for my research. I truly thought that my recent adventure had lit a fire in my belly, but I constantly find myself losing focus. Confound it all! Perhaps said adventure itself is the problem. Thinking about it, I am always eager to discuss the obelisks and the artifacts I found with my assistants, even when I am not in the mood for research. There is a certain allure to them that I cannot describe, something that causes my thoughts to drift in their direction, like the pull of a strong tide. But it could simply be a passing fancy. I must give myself more time.
  +
*Clifton: Mmm, I wouldn't call researching this kind of tech 'boring', in an unrefined tongue.
  +
*Samantha: Neither would I. Studying precursor races that have shaped a backbone for the UUniverses are a scientist's pride and joy.
  +
*Clifton: "I'm guessing he might not be the right kind of scientist for this then."
  +
*(Stonewell): I was ever so glad to see Miss Runner again. My assistants are clever in their own right, but dear Johnna Jr. is still the only person that I feel comfortable diving into my deeper theories with. I fear that I may have kept her from getting a word in edgewise, though. Once I got going on the obelisks, why I just couldn't contain my enthusiasm! My word, I really have become quite enamored with the subject, haven't I? Well, that settles it! After this next set of trials, I shall go check on the Steel Brotherhood's progress. Perhaps I can convince Miss Runner to join me. We could make a real scientific expedition out of it!
  +
*Samantha:... At least he has a friend of equal intellect to share words with.
  +
*Clifton: Glad for that myself. At least he grew on his own too.
  +
*(Stonewell): The latest Broth of Knowledge trials have concluded, and as expected, I am disappointed in the results. Thought the primates I tested it on showed increased aptitude for learning, I do not believe any of them have truly ascended to a higher level of intelligence. Well bugger the little blighters, I say! My assistants have almost finished preparing my supplies for my next expedition, and I have drafted a letter to send to the Steel Brotherhood ahead of my departure. Soon enough, I'll have forgotten all about the... Pardon the interruption, it seems that I have a guest. Now just what is Mister Nervay doing here? I suppose I'll find out.
  +
*Clifton: Oh, yeah, I forgot about this Nervay guy.
  +
*(Stonewell): I have always tried to maintain a strict neutrality when it comes to tribal matters and affairs, as with the rules of the grander community of the universes, but then again, I have never had an offer this tempting from someone as respectable as Mister Nervay. Not only has he offered to provide me with test subjects, but he has also expressed a mutual interest in investigating the obelisks. All he asks from me is that I provide him with "reliable council." I would trust few tribes to be able to make good on such promises, but Mister Nervay's Artegerant Legion is perhaps the most powerful tribe on the island. Indeed, if they maintain their current trajectory, they may be the only powerful tribe on the island. His offer is worth considering, at the very least.
  +
*Clifton:... Okay, so much for having respect for him. Nervay had re-sparked his immoral practices by giving him test subjects.
  +
*Samantha: Well I did cautioned that the last view pages were a brief period. Look, Clifton, it's a cold cold world out here. War and suffering has been happening since the beginning of time, and often times for the most pettiest of reasons.
  +
*Clifton: Yes, but sometimes, I wish it wasn't.
  +
*Samantha: We all do.
  +
*(Stonewell): After much deliberation, I have decided to accept Mister Nervay's offer. True, the Artegerent Legion is not beloved by many other tribes, but what force interested to become the dominant force of anything ever gotten a kinder reputation? If my studies are to continue, I must be on the side of history most likely to be the one to make changes. As part of our agreement, I will need to travel with Mister Nervay for a time, and wait to study the obelisks until the Artegerant Legion have taken care of some smaller matters of foreign policy. Abit inconvenient to my researching hobbies, but clearly Nervay's legion are nomadic in nature, so I have to respect that it's something convinent to them. As such, I have left Stonewell Manor in Isabellene's charge. She will take excellent care of it, I am sure. Well then, onto new frontiers! Excelsior!
  +
*Clifton:... Okay, um... I'll just... Keep going and hope he doesn't get any worse from here.
  +
*Samantha: "I rather for us both to prepare for impact. I am regretful to say that this will only get darker."
  +
*(Stonewell): I admit, I have been rather coy with Mister Nervay when it comes to the true nature of the obelisks. As a military man, the obelisks would naturally be more useful to him if they were some sort of weapon, and I have made sure to allude to that possibility from time to time. It is not as though I am selling my gracious host a falsehood. After all, I have neither any proof that the obelisks could be weaponized, nor any evidence to the contrary. Their purpose is entirely theoretical at this stage, and if twisting those theories will convince Mister Nervay to march on the obelisks any sooner, then so be it.
  +
*Clifton:... At least he proves that brains can dominate brawns. And good to know Nervay's abit of a dumbass, tribalism aside
  +
*Samantha: I wouldn't underestimate Nervay just because of the planet's technological nature, Clifton. We may not know Nervay ourselves, but there could be more then meets the eye.
  +
*Clifton:... True.
  +
*(Stonewell): The Artegerant Legion is finally on the march, and not a moment too soon! Mister Nervay runs his tribe exceptionally well, but their compound is positively spaetan. I don't think I saw a single piece of decor anywhere! It certainly made me miss the comforts of Stonewell Manor, I'll say that. At any rate, we are apparently in pursuit of a barbaric "Animal Queen". According to the men, she feasts on the flesh of her enemies alongside her army of monsters. Oy, the further criticisms to the ways of life of tribal society I got from that statement alone. Mister Nervay is convinced that she is heading towards an obelisk, but I see no cause for alarm. No mere heathen could hope to uncover its secrets, and certainly not alone.
  +
*Samantha:... Animal... Queen... Sounds like they encountered a feral leader.
  +
*Clifton: Well, I just hope he keeps a level head and keeps thinking wise.
  +
*Samantha:... Looks like you spoke too soon, Clifton. Listen to this. He sounds jealous in this chapter.
  +
*(Stonewell): I am absolutely astonished! Shocked! Flabbergasted! Why in the world was Miss Runner investigating the obelisks at the side of such a savage woman, and without notifying me first? Was she intending to discover their secrets behind my back and keep them all to herself? The nerve! The audacity! And after I treated her with such respect and civility!
  +
*Clifton: ".....I'm already getting the feeling this was an easily avoidable misunderstanding that can easily be avoided by a simple conversation."
  +
*Samantha: "Well I'm afraid what follows that Stonewell wasn't able to be in a listening mood."
  +
*(Stonewell): Well, unfortunately for her, Sir Edwyn Stonewell is always one step ahead of his rivals. Thanks to my partnership with Mister Nervay, I can combine what scraps of knowledge she has on the obelisks with my own findings, and she'll be none the wiser. Why, since she is confined to a cage, I can keep my presence concealed from her altogether!
  +
*Clifton:... You've got to be kidding me. He actually accuses someone he respected, of stealing his research? I thought he was better than that.
  +
*Samantha: Dishonorable, I know, but fair's fair, I believe it's obvious at this point that Stonewell has already started to take a downward spiral thanks to Nervay.
  +
*Clifton: "Doesn't make ched-head less of a dick though!"
  +
*(Stonewell): Before arriving on this island, I would have dismissed the idea of a device instantly transporting a person from one location to another as complete and utter poppycock.... Or at least, one such at this godly degree. Yet, that appears exactly what the strange platforms beneath the obelisks are capable of doing. Astounding! Yes, yes, there was a Dracthysaur on the other side. I'm sure Mister Nervay and his men fought quite the battle, but discovering another slobbering beast is trivial in comparison. Imagine! One could go from one side of the globe to the other in the blink of an eye, and also in using little commands and energy to do so spontaneously, and I'll wager that is just the start of the obelisk's capabilities! I must learn more! I must!
  +
*Clifton: And now he's competing for the research of this race? Come ON! They're not the only ones who did this! HEILI'S MOM DID IT, AND HE KNEW HER!! How could he betray her daughter and disrespect her mother's grave like that?
  +
*Samantha: With intelligence comes pride, Clifton, you know that. Many of the best scientists had pride themselves.
  +
*(Stonewell): I am starting to become quite cross with Mister Nervay's impatience. I had barely any time at all to study the obelisk before we set out again, this time to that cave Miss Runner mentioned. I wonder, does he believe that she knows more about the obelisks than I do? Nonsense! Any fool could see that I am the superior scientist. Ugh, if only Nervay wasn't just some mindless savage playing conqueror! Besides, I am his official advisor while she is his prisoner. She isn't even privy to my presence. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to prove my scientific mettle. Whatever is in that cave, I shall be the one to discover its purpose. The mysteries of the obelisks are mine to uncover, not Miss Runner's or even Mister Nervay's. Mine.
  +
*Clifton: Oh for the love of Gods, are you serious?! You think this world revolves around you, you stuck-up moron?!
  +
*Samantha: Clifton!
  +
*Clifton: Right. (Deep breath)... I'm still hoping he gets wise again like he did before. That said, I am getting the idea the honeymoon with Nervay is starting to turn south.
  +
*Samantha: "Ahem, well, be cautious that him turning against Nervay may not necessarily be a good thing, and I suspect this book will only get darker."
  +
*(Stonewell): In all my life, I have never seen so magnificent a sight! Mister Nervay may be bemoaning the loss of his men, but I would sacrifice them a thousand times over to witness such majesty! I have never seen a night sky so beautiful. Somehow, this place looks down upon the world from on high, as though it stands upon the peak of divine mountains themselves! And my word, the exquisite metal this place is made out of, not to mention that bizarre creature! It reminds me of the material that lines the obelisks, yet somehow more... Alive. The very walls of this place seem to hum with power and possibility. I must find more information on this material. Perhaps one of these consoles will have something I could use. I am not familiar with the technology, but I am sure a scientist of my caliber could get something out of them with a little educated fiddling.
  +
*Clifton: Pheh, sure, I can see where that goes, because it looks like this journal is done.
  +
*Samantha:... Not quite. What he's done according to this journal is not serious enough to garner such a notoriety. He had to have done something worse. MUCH worse.
  +
  +
(Later...) Scorchar Desert
  +
*Clifton: Huh? Another journal from Stonewell?
  +
*Samantha: I suppose in that case, I was correct. What he did on the island couldn't have given him such a brash reputation.
  +
*Clifton:... Well, what COULD have?
  +
*Samantha: Let's find out. (They read the journal)
  +
*(Stonewell): Confound those confused contraptions! Despite my best efforts, I could make neither heads nor tails of the mysterious machine that brought me here. If only I still had that jittery bespectacled assistant of mine from all those years ago. What was his name? Gera? Gerdel? The one that loved tinkering with the devices we’d salvage from the arms of the island’s less fortunate inhabitants. Good lad. The inscriptions he found on the inside of those little trinkets were where I first saw the word 'Adytum' as I recall. That and some word that I could make out as 'Project'. What this 'Adytum Project' was about, I won't know for sure. Still, I miss the lad. Shame about the incident with the Multisaurs. If I still had his services, perhaps I’d never be in this gods-forsaken crater desert. Ah well. Stiff upper lip, Stonewell. Make the best of it.... I just hope Isabellene is doing well without me.
  +
*Clifton: Oh, trust me, she is. She cleaned up the mess Nervay left on the island and reestablished peace on it after the Artegerent Legion's collapse.... Though she didn't ONCE feel like talking about you. I don't know why.
  +
*Samantha: I suppose it's best left for US to figure out what has become of him.
  +
*(Stonewell): Right then! Now that I have found a shady spot where I can enjoy a brief respite from this desert’s dreadful heat, it’s high time that I set some goals for this expedition. If I wander about aimlessly then I’m sure to meet the same fate as poor Gerdel. First, I shall find a local tribe if for no other reason than to obtain a proper mount and supplies. Second, I simply must learn more about that strange metal that lined the walls of the sanctuary. Even with a cursory study I could tell that it possesses wondrous properties. But where could I find more of it?
  +
*Clifton:... He's REALLY fixated on this 'metal'.
  +
*Samantha:... Perhaps, too fixated.
  +
*(Stonewell): I must say nothing reminds a man of his own mortality quite like a desolate wasteland, even though the ones in this crater pale in comparison to the mess outside of it. As a strapping young lad, I could have survived alone in this desert for years! Why on one occasion, I fought off a triger with naught but an empty flash and my favorite pipe. With this makeshift spear, the beasts of this land would never have a prayer! Yet in my old age, I can feel this damnable sun sapping my strength with every minute I spend under its unforgiving gaze. Each day I cover less ground than the day before. I must find civilization soon, no matter how primitive. Without the right tools and supplies, I fear that this expedition will be incredibly short lived.
  +
*Clifton:... Hmm. Guess he still survives this regardless, so, FESS UP!!
  +
*Samantha: (Softly chuckles)
  +
*(Stonewell): Eureka! At last, I have found signs of sentient life! Though they don't seem to be ones I like, not in a racist sense, but in a sense of misplacement in a fitting environment. It's like putting a pretty bird in space. It just seems wrong. Regardless. This afternoon, I came across a fresh series of footprints, some from sentient beings and some from what I assume are large beasts of burden. I cannot be sure who made them or how civilized they may be, but neither can I afford to be too particular in my choice of saviors. Whoever they are, I must track them down immediately. As soon as I gather my strength I shall pursue my quarry with the utmost haste and vigor. The tale of the brilliant and impeccably groomed Sir Edwyn Stonewell shall not end this day!
  +
*Clifton: (Sighs) This guy just cannot get over himself.
  +
*(Stonewell): Salvation, thy name is Prophecy Black. After a proper meal and some time out of the sun, the makeshift fortress doesn't look half as grand as its name might imply. Yet when I first sighted its walls from across the dunes, it may as well have been El Doritos itself, so grateful was I to find it. Thus far, I have seen little of the inhabitants, but they seem a hospitable sort. I've been given food, shelter, and even a wet cloth to clean myself with. Quite generous of them, considering how scarce water is in these lands. Their clothing is a curiosity, however. Those robes seem more ceremonial than functional.
  +
*Clifton:... Seems he's come across a religious colony.
  +
*Samantha: I believe so.
  +
*(Stonewell): It seems that Prophecy Black is less a fortress and more an enclave or monastery. I suppose that would explain the name, now wouldn't it? Yes as strange as it may sound, the natives have created a primitive religion centered around the contained environment's obelisks. They pray three times a day, each time facing a different obelisk, and their robes bear a unique symbol: a three pointed star colored red, green and blue. The blue obelisk appears to receive particular reverence due to is proximity. As charmingly ignorant as their superstitions may be, it's far from the most savage religion I've encountered. Besides, Prophecy Black is in need of a doctor, and I am in need of supplies.
  +
*Samantha:... And we were right.
  +
*(Stonewell): I have discovered why Prophecy Black is so generous with their water. The well at the edge of the compound is built directly on top of what the locals call a 'water vein'. An endless supply water bubbles up from beneath the ground. It's existence is a minor miracle, though compared to what I saw in the starlit sanctuary, minor is the operative word. I suppose this environment must be for the same purpose as the Island and under the same control. Possibly from this 'Adytum Project' thing. What an extraordinary thought. I cannot fathom how such a thing is possible, but that remarkable metal must be at the heart of it. I am certain.
  +
*Samantha:... Hmm. He must be onto something here.
  +
*Clifton: Oh, no doubt about it. Maybe if we keep reading, we can get some coverage on how to stop Dr. SMD.
  +
*(Stonewell): Most of my work at the monastery's doctor has been trivial. Every now and then one of the guards gets injured by the local wildlife, but I usually find myself treating heat stroke and common illnesses. As such, I have had plenty of time to learn all the priests know about the obelisks. All told, they are stunningly ill-informed about the literal pillars of their faith. They are unaware that the obelisks are actually devices that can be activated, and needless to say they have never activated one themselves. They showed a flicker of understanding when I described the artifacts I found on the island, however. I shall have to keep digging.
  +
*Clifton:... Hmm. Keep going, ched-head.
  +
*(Stonewell): Unbelievable. Have these idol-worshiping ninnies replaced all their common sense with blind devotion? Have years of oppressive heat completely addled their brains? I was finally allowed to see the monastery's inner sanctum, and lo and behold, there they were. Sitting upon an altar before a flock of protesting primitives were these glowing artifacts, just like the ones I had found in the caverns beneath the island. Yet instead of making use of them or even studying them, these halfwits are praying to them! The true value of those artifacts is completely lost on these simpletons. Sacred relics, indeed!
  +
*Clifton:... Okay, I'd hate to agree with someone of his caliber, but he's right. That's such a waste.
  +
*Samantha: Well, it's not their fault their knowledge of the artifacts is hardly understood.
  +
*(Stonewell): It took time, but I finally pilfered enough supplies and tools to survive on my own. Loading them onto these bamal-like beasts of burden was laborious, but the real trial was absconding with the artifacts. There is always someone watching the inner sanctum, so I carefully studied the guard's shifts until I identified whose drink I had to spoil with my knockout serum. Even then I acted with great haste and guile, for my heist will surely be discovered when the priests convene for their morning prayers. Alas, they will be too late! Sir Edwyn Stonewell is always ahead of his foes, but not by a mere step. No, I am miles and miles beyond their reach!
  +
*Clifton: Okay, thus guy's stroking his own penis so hard, it's gotten sore.
  +
*Samantha: (Chuckles) Clearly.
  +
*(Stonewell): It has been several days since I left Prophecy Black, and I have seen no sign of pursuit. I am unsurprised. They probably assumed that I would make for the blue obelisk, as it was nearest. By setting out for the green obelisk instead, I already outwitted those simple minded zealots. As I said, miles ahead! Miles! With those fools out of the way, I can slow my pace and take some time to properly study these so-called 'sacred' relics of theirs. I am curious to see if the materials they are made of bear any similarity to the metal in the starlit sanctuary.
  +
*Clifton:... As rotten as he is, he sure has some intelligence to survive on a planet like this.
  +
*Samantha: People have to have those kind of smarts here, Cliff.
  +
*(Stonewell): The obelisk is reacting to the presence of the artifacts with even more intensity than I expected. Each obelisk on the island required eight artifacts to generate that sort of response, not three. In other words, I may not need to do any spelunking before summoning whatever terrifying beast this ARK has in store for me. Ah, the beast. Now that poses an entirely different conundrum. Even with my youth and my favorite pipe, I doubt that I could slay a monster such as that dracthon Mister Nervay fought. Not alone, anyway. I shall need to find a partner for this venture, but who?
  +
*Clifton: Oh, I'm sure you'll find SOMETHING. This desert seems MERCILESS! (He saw animals eat each other in a comical fashion over and over)... Unnaturally merciless.
  +
*(Stonewell): I have turned back north in hope of making contact with some of the natives. It is a risk, as I cannot be sure how many bumbling savages are under the sway of that ludicrous, obelisk-worshiping cult, but it is also the only region that I definitively know is occupied. I do not have much to offer in exchange for their aid, but I am sure that I can negotiate an alliance with at least one of this crater desert's tribes. I was at the center of the island's diplomatic disputes for years, after all. Why I am a seasoned, silver-tongued negotiator! Surely I can coax a partnership out of these primitive desert dwellers.
  +
*Clifton:... Yeah, as we've seen, you do it, TOO well.
  +
*(Stonewell): What terrible misfortune! My keen sense of direction finally led me to a local settlement, but as it happened, I was not the first party to visit it that day. That honor belonged to the Burner Clan, a band of raiders that were plundering it's storehouses and enslaving its surviving residents as I arrived. Naturally, the hoodlums fell upon me and stripped me of my valuables within minutes of my arrival. Ruffians! I managed to keep hold of my journal, but little else. This won't do, not at all! Then again, I was seeking out a tribe skilled in the art of violence. Perhaps I can turn this to my advantage.
  +
*Clifton: Well, yeah, you gotta start getting help someway.
  +
*(Stonewell): Curse these stubborn brutes! Despite a litany of polite, gentlemanly requests, they refuse to allow me to parlay with their leader. Surely any leader of men is not half the imbecile that these barbarians are. I am positive that we could come to some sort of... Damn this noise! It is impossible to concentrate with all this insufferable whingeing! Half of these prisoners won't stop moaning about one injury or another and the other half are in constant hysterics. Very well. Perhaps if I tend to some of the wounded, it will dim this distracting cacophony.
  +
*Samantha:... Well, even if it's for personal goals, he still has some humility.
  +
*Clifton: That's as far as I'm willing to give him at the moment.
  +
*(Stonewell): At last, I can hear myself think! The guards have moved me to a private cell, and while they have not divulged the reason for my transfer, I suspect that they took notice of my medical expertise. I caught them staring in my direction on several occasions as I worked. It seems that doctors are in high demand in these lands. I suppose that's no great surprise. The island was no different. No matter. While my skills in the realm of medicine are more in line with a field medic than a true physician, I shall continue to play the role as long as it serves me.
  +
*Clifton:... Okay... Scratch that. He's become a survivor, so survivors can grow a sense of selfishness. That kinda comes with the territory. When you have to survive, you have to think for yourself.
  +
*Samantha: Indeed. It's sad, but it's true.
  +
*(Stonewell): After days of travel, we finally arrived at the Burner Clan's compound, and while my former peers were shuffled to the slave pens, I stood before the clan's leader. I'd heard tales of the once-great Kainic Empires, thought I had never traveled to their lands. By all appearances, Tempus is cut from the same cloth as their fabled Kaines. He was at once imperious and casual, questioning me with impatience from a throne of hide and bone. Naturally, he was impressed by my intellect and gentlemanly demeanor. Granted he did not say so aloud, but I was escorted to a small, private chamber instead of a cell. Surely that says as much.
  +
*Clifton:... Though, his intelligence is astounding, as is his silver tongue. Don't get me wrong, I still despise his acts. But he at least knows how to survive and sway others to do his bidding.
  +
*Samantha: It's still not prudent to admire his manipulative ways. I can see Miria doing something like that.
  +
*Clifton: (Chuckles) So true. But that's only because, as our leader, she wants us to learn from others' strategies.
  +
*Samantha: Indeed.
  +
*(Stonewell): I had been pondering why Tempus required the services of a doctor. He seemed to be in excellent health and I had seen no patients since I arrived. Well now I shall ponder no longer. Timur has a wife, and she's with child. I suppose that even bloodthirsty raiders can fall in love, or at the very least, desire a family. At least it's not incestuous like an ancient primitive times which was merely a biologically-damaging attempt to expand families, instead of, you know, parents just having more children as it should be. The whole affair would be rather quaint were I not expected to care for the woman and deliver the child. Should either the child or the woman die during the birth, I fear that I will follow them in short order.
  +
*Clifton:... Wow.
  +
*Samantha: Wow indeed.
  +
*(Stonewell): Nasiri is quite different from her husband. She is a timid little flower of a woman, or rather, she would be if she were not many months pregnant. I am still undecided as to whether my timing is impeccable or unfortunate. A few weeks from now, Tempus may have had no need of a doctor, but as it stands I have been thrust into an unfamiliar scenario with scant time to prepare. Despite my unpleasant circumstances, this whole affair is rather intriguing. I never considered the possibility of new generations being born on these contained environments for this 'Adytum Project', yet clearly it was inevitable. Like any common animal, sentient beings, especially Creijuds like Tempus and Nasiri have the urge to procreate. How else could the species endure?
  +
*Clifton: Eh, life finds ways. Especially alien life. (He and Samantha chuckled)
  +
*(Stonewell): Stonewell, old bean, you've done it again! Both mother and child made it through, Tempus is a proud father, and your head is still attached to its shoulders. Why I was even a guest of honor at Tempus's celebratory feast! I cannot say I enjoyed the blood sport that serves as the Burners' entertainment, but the food was delectable. I was also sure to seize upon Tempus's momentary goodwill by filling his ears with whispers of obelisks, artifacts and the untold power they grant to mortal men. It may take time for those thoughts to turn to action, but with constant care, I may yet turn him into my unwitting general.
  +
*Clifton:... Well, took a lot of placenta, but he got his ears at least. The things he had to do to get that far.
  +
*(Stonewell): The silver tongue of Sir Edwyn Stonewell has prevailed once again! After spending far too long watching the Burners enslave and decimate hapless caravans and villages, I have convinced Tempus to test his might against the guardian of the obelisk, which he had been anxious to do. I admit, I was somewhat anxious too. Tempus said that the guardian was a Mantilovia, a giant synapsid cauter creature that is rare on most worlds, with poisonous claws and teeth, small horns, and a lizard tail with poisonous spines that it can launch at it's prey. Tempus may not be the commander that Mister Nervay was, and should he fall, I shall fall with him. Yet I have little choice, and the rewards of success are worth the risk. The obelisks, the starlit sanctuary and that precious ore shall be the foundation of my legacy as a scientist, gentleman and explorer. I am sure of it.
  +
*Clifton:... A Mantilovia?... Wow.
  +
*Samantha: Indeed they are rare. I never thought I'd even see one myself.
  +
*Clifton: Not many do.
  +
*(Stonewell): I found it! I really found it! Raw, untainted samples of that same, mysterious ore from the sanctuary! That fearsome beast must have been guarding it. Thank the heavens for Tempus and his berserk savagery! When he leapt from the back of his Dracthysaur, I thought he was surely doomed, but the madman actually managed to grab hold of that monster's horns and turn its eyes into a bloody mess. I have never seen such brutally effective barbarism. Many of his band did not survive the encounter of course, but that was to be expected. Progress requires sacrifice, and whether those brutes knew it or not, their deaths have helped sentientkind leap into the future.
  +
*Clifton:... Oh boy. That was rough.
  +
*(Stonewell): This ore is simply extraordinary! It is as warm to the touch as skin, even during these cold desert nights, and it pulses as though it has its own heartbeat.... And when I touched it... It was like the metal itself was part of me. Extraordinary! It is at once light and more sturdy than any natural material I have encountered. The uses one could find for such a substance. I shall have to name it at some point. What would do? Edwynium? Stonewellium? A dilemma for another time. For now I have more pressing matters. Tempus and his Burner savages have played their part, and I cannot remain in their custody. It is time for the great warrior chief to receive his just reward.
  +
*Clifton:... He's not...
  +
*Samantha: Oh he definitely is.
  +
*(Stonewell): Alas, poor Tempus. He was so focused on celebrating his victory over one foe, that he never saw his greatest threat. Now he lies beneath the severed and stuffed head of the beast he vanquished, eyes bulging and blood seeping from his open mouth. At least, that is how I imagine him. I did not stay to admire my handiwork. As soon as the first group of Burner warriors succumbed to their poisoned feast, I stole away into the night, Stonewellium and artifacts in tow. All of them are dead... Curiously I couldn't find Tempus' wife and child. Not that they were truly a threat anyway.... Or at least not until they see what has become of their father/husband. But serves those ruffians right, I say! They never did treat me with the propriety that a gentleman and scholar of my caliber deserves. This desert is better off without them. I just hope I can get out of dodge before Nasiri finds me for her revenge.
  +
*Clifton:... Oh, oh, I thought this blowhard was a REAL piece of work before, BUT THIS?!
  +
*Samantha:... Well, those Burners looked like they'd be potentially as dangerous as Nervay, so, I suppose he did them some good. At least his wife and child are still alive. At this point, his son is grown up and likely doing great things. If you ask me, Stonewell did them a favor. His son deserved a better life than just being a rotten clan murderer.
  +
*Clifton:... Yeah, you're probably right, but still, that was heartless.
  +
*(Stonewell): As my withdrawal from the Burners' camp demanded haste, I did not have the time to double-check my supplies. It appears that I shall have to do some hunting. No matter! I may not be as spry as I was when felled a charging Monacosaur on the outside wastes of the planet, but with all the small armory I managed to abscond with, I can surely manage. I had planned on trading those weapons for information as soon as I encountered a peaceful tribe, but I can spare a few rounds of ammunition.
  +
*Clifton:... (Sighs) When does he even get to the point where he becomes as infamous as he is today, because what he did to the Burners shouldn't even come close to such.
  +
*Samantha: Be patient.
  +
*(Stonewell): Despite my limited equipment, I have managed to run some initial tests on the Stonewellium. Based on my observations, a typical forge may not be enough to smelt a sample of Stonewellium ore into any sort of usable ingot. I suspect that it has extremely strong metallic bonds and therefore a much higher melting point than any conventional metallic element. Also... Seemed to me like it had signs of feeling pain the moment I touched it. It wasn't just that the heat burned me... It was like it shared it's pain with me. Even the worst-degree burns didn't offer such lasting pain. I must find a proper base of operations where I can run more extensive experiments. I mustn't be overeager, however. I have limited samples and... Drat! I shall have to ruminate on this later. A sandstorm may be brewing and I have no desire to be caught in it.
  +
*Clifton:... This man can't catch a break.
  +
*Samantha: Not many do on this planet, my love.
  +
*(Stonewell): Confounded weather! Not only did that sandstorm separate me from my steed, but when it cleared I was beset upon by none other than the traitorous Miss Runner herself! Oh, she put on quite the act, spouting all sorts of nonsense about how good it was to see me. Rubbish! I see right through her ruse. I am certain that she is after my Stonewellium. The only reason she has not simply looted it from my corpse is that she requires my superior intellect to understand it. Well two can play this game, Miss Runner! I can fill the role of the benign old scientist for a time, but I shall not be betrayed again!
  +
*Clifton:... He's STILL under the impression she plans to steal from him?!
  +
*Samantha: (Sighs) Clifton?
  +
*Clifton: Okay, just forget about it, at this point, he's never going to-
  +
*Samantha: "Look, I get it, you're annoyed by his accusations onto Heli. But to be fair, it's not like he known Heli for years and WELL beyond the planet. He literally met her in a rog-eat-rod planet where it's everyone for themselves."
  +
*Clifton: "Okay, I can get that he assumed that Heli's being an utter bitch here, but, A SIMPLE CONVERSATION WOULD CLEAR ALL THAT UP?!"
  +
*(Stonewell): I am glad that I possessed the foresight to hide my presence from Miss Runner after her capture on the island. She clearly believes that I never learned of her betrayal. By cunningly taking advantage of this fact, I have managed to completely deceive the deceiver! The grim old Invervisaur ghoul she travels with is another matter. I often catch her glaring in my direction, her eyes sharp and mistrusting. If I could, I would deal with her as I dealt with Tempus, but I fear she is far too observant. For now I must maintain my deception as best I can.
  +
*Clifton:... Looks like this time, he's got eyes all over him.... Not literally-
  +
*Samantha: I know figurative language when I hear it, Clifton, I'm not a fool.
  +
*(Stonewell): I may have given Miss Runner too much credit. Although I carelessly allowed her to catch sight of my Stonewellium ore samples, she was more interested in the artifact I possess. I should have realized this sooner. Miss Runner's specialty is biology. She would not recognize the unique properties of Stonewellium if they hit her square in the forehead... Unless she saw that it curiously shared the behavior of a living organism. Luckily, I was sure to keep her from learning that. That fact has eased some of my tension. Even if Miss Runner seeks to take advantage of my genius, she is focusing on the wrong discoveries. So long as I am careful in my studies of Stonewellium, I shall remain miles ahead of her.
  +
*Samantha:... Last page.
  +
*(Stonewell): I cannot wait to be rid of that glowering menace of a woman, this so-called 'Rayburn Skyrider'... And apparently her thought-to-be-dead caveman boyfriend. I suspect the feeling is mutual. She has offered little in the way of farewells while seeing us to the entrance to the starlit sanctuary. She has admonished me for keeping spoils of more Stonewellium from the monster that I thought was the one Tempus killed but was still alive, when it was actually its spawn. The young Mantilovia chased us into the crater desert. When Rav learns that it wants me and my Stonewellium, even at the behest of my insistence that it's mine, finders are keepers after all, she just stole ALL of it from me and returned it to the monster. But it still wanted us all after what I had done to its mother. If it wasn't for that caveman, we'd all be dead. She wasted my precious Stonewellium! I will NEVER forgive her for such a wasted effort. Things will be much easier once Miss Runner and I have parted ways with the desert witch and the eccentric caveman, I suspect. Miss Runner is thoroughly oblivious to both the wonders of Stonewellium and my knowledge of her underhanded scheming back on the island as she scolded me for my so-called 'arrogance' as she put it, and said that the metal must've 'gotten to my head'. Such folly accusations. I know what I am doing. But she can continue to fiddle with trinkets and relics. I may even assist her if it suits me. Meanwhile, I shall unlock the secrets of the most extraordinary metal in the UUniverses right under her nose!
  +
*Clifton:... My God!... He actually did ALL of that?!
  +
*Samantha: (Sighs) I can almost feel your anger for him, Cliff.
  +
*Clifton: Well, this doesn't seem to be his worst. He says he has another journal here.
  +
*Samantha:... I believe we may have the final nail in the coffin for how far he goes with this. What he just stated in his final note is a telltale sign that he'll go further than ever where he goes next.
  +
  +
(Later...) Lapse Wastes
  +
*Clifton:... Seems like SUCH a coincidence we keep finding Stonewell's journals.
  +
*Samantha: (She sees the back tainted with molten enhancelement)... And I was correct. We may have just found his final journal.
  +
*Clifton: Great. Now we can FINALLY find out what makes him so infamous. (They read)
  +
*(Stonewell): I fear that even with the unwitting aid of Miss Runner, I still cannot completely control the machines in the starlit sanctuary. I believe they sent us to the correct environment, but I was unable to control precisely where we arrived on it. Alas, that means the location I saw in the sanctuary is beyond my reach for the time being, along with the molten Stonewellium I saw there. Confound it all! Naturally, I cannot confirm that molten substance was indeed Stonewellium until I have inspected it with my own eyes, but it simply must be! It looked exactly like my samples did when I attempted to melt them down. But this time, it was not in pain. It was doing so naturally, which means it shares a hybrid behavior of both organic life and non-organic matter. Imagine! An entire cavern of the most potent metal ever conceived! The wonders I could create. I could just see the smug faces on my parents when I finally take credit for what THEY tried to steal from me.
  +
*Clifton:... Doing this to spite his own parents that he drugged. What a low point, even for him.
  +
*(Stonewell): While the molten Stonewellium remains elusive, this underground forest has proven quite illuminating, both figuratively and literally. Many of this cavern's species are bioluminescent, so out of curiosity, I dissected several of the glowing insects that are common here. After further study, I have concluded that the luminescent fluid found in their posteriors carries something akin to a bioelectric charge. However I cannot determine how it is generated, and with no place to store it, said charge fades quickly. Curious, curious indeed! What could be the cause of this? With no sunlight to provide the forest with energy, perhaps this charge comes from the soil?
  +
*Samantha: Well, I'm sure he'll figure by the end that it is the work of this 'Stonewellium'. Or as it's called, ENHANCELEMENT!... Oh wait, never mind, he figures that out on the next page. (Clifton chuckled)
  +
*(Stonewell): Yes, yes of course! The Stonewellium is the cause! If there are truly molten pools of Stonewellium somewhere in these caverns, then Stonewellium minerals would have spread throughout the soil over time, allowing its wondrous properties to affect nearby flora and fauna. Even if it is not the direct source of the charge found in this forest's bioluminescent wildlife, it may have incited incremental changes in those species over several generations, which then led to their development of an internal charge. How invigorating! I could be standing in the middle of an entire ecosystem that has been absorbing the effects of Stonewellium for generations, and all of its secrets are mine for the taking. Magnificent!
  +
*Samantha:... Someone like him certainly does not deserve such recognition. He does not realize that this substance drove the Scyrians themselves mad from mix-matched genetics.
  +
*Clifton: Well, this place DOES resemble the jungles of Permiana Major. THAT planet has become so infused with enhancelement, it has become it's lifeforce. It's blood. It's very essence.
  +
*Samantha: I know, I know. That's because of the substance's organic behavior. Such a substance could give planets their own self-awareness and their own inner life.
  +
*Clifton: Exactly!
  +
*(Stonewell): I must admit, I am glad that I coerced Miss Runner into accompanying me. Her scientific mind may be far below my own, but she can fire a rifle proficiently enough. I suppose that is no surprise. She is a colonial, after all, and she never has been terribly ladylike. I hadn't noticed what a foul mouth she has, either. Dreadful! However, despite her past deceptions and uncouth vulgarity, I must tolerate her presence for now. The predators here are not to be trifled with. Of course, in my youth, I could have grappled them into submission. Why, I would simply pin their wings behind their backs and drive them to the ground. Yes, I'd give them a truly thorough thrashing! Ah, to be young again.
  +
*Clifton: (Sighs)
  +
*(Stonewell): Miss Runner I can tolerate for now, but I cannot abide by this barbarian! Meya, was she? I cannot fathom how she even lives, much less how she ended up here! A primitive mind like hers could never have operated the contraptions in the starlit sanctuary. Yet here she stands, and worst of all, she wears a suit of Stonewellium armor! The very thing I seek has already been claimed by some savage, sword wielding tart! It's outrageous! Such a beautiful product of science should not be sullied by her bloodstained hands. No, Stonewell. You must be calm. If she senses hostility, she will surely kill you on the spot. Yes, for now I must bide my time and learn what I can. Whoever constructed this armor, I must find them.
  +
*Clifton: (Sighs harder)
  +
*(Stonewell): Astounding! That remarkable armor was but the tip of the iceberg. The barbarian woman Meya has escorted us to the home of her new masters, and I can take nary a step without finding some wondrous new piece of technology, much of it relying on the power of Stonewellium. Though I am upset that I could not find modern use of it myself, I could at least take it further in ways even they could not process. The casual manner in which they use and refer to these wonders leads me to believe that while they are deeply familiar with the marvelous metal, they may not grasp the depths of its potential. Yes, Stonewell, this was well worth tolerating Miss Runner and her savage companion. I shall learn what these beings know, and take it many steps further.
  +
*Clifton: (Shrugs hard)
  +
*Samantha: Cliff!
  +
*Clifton: I'M TRYING!!
  +
*(Stonewell): The village has a vast supply of Stonewellium, far more than the paltry samples that desert witch stole from me. In this quantity, I can almost hear it singing to me as I study it. It pulses with more nervous-system-like energy at such an entrancing rhythm that it's hard to tear my eyes away from it. The villagers here refer to it as "enhancelement." What a rubbish name. A pun on words is no name for this wondrous substance. I will still call it Stonewellium, as it deserves a better name. I have also been learning what they know of the "charge" that is common in this place, which I made note of earlier. Their own studies confirm my suspicions that it is the result of the Stonewellium that permeates the caverns, and they call it 'glowcharge'. That makes it worth researching.
  +
*Clifton:... I bet he won't last in his normal self by the end of this.
  +
*Samantha: Me too. His own ambition has driven him past lines he shouldn't cross.
  +
*(Stonewell): Obtaining detailed information from these villagers is like drawing blood from a stone! The Skorner, Diana, which I'm surprised hasn't picked a fight with Heili, her race's rival race, has been pleasant enough in answering my queries, but she is no scientist. Her naivete makes that quite evident. I simply must convince these men to place me onto one of their research teams. That's where I'll really gain some ground. Unfortunately, they seem rather skeptical of my scientific prowess. Bah! Ridiculous! I don't care what space territory they hail from, I am Sir Edwen Stonewell! A mind like my own only comes once a millennium. It should be their honor to have me amongst their ranks.
  +
*Clifton: Oy! Like I said, he won't last with his sanity intact.
  +
*(Stonewell): The nerve of these people! I have never seen such arrogance and disrespect directed towards a worthy colleague! I finally convinced Dinia to let me partake in the village's research and experiments, and I have been treated like an ignoramus. These so-called scientists dare to talk down to me? They dare to underestimate me? Fools, the lot of them! Well, I daresay I don't need them. Now that I have access to their facilities and supplies, I can research glowcharge and Stonewellium just fine without their aid. Soon enough, my knowledge shall surpass their own, then we shall see who is primitive.
  +
*Clifton:... I'm not even going to say anything anymore. It's pretty much tapped.
  +
*(Stonewell): Confound it all! Why am I progressing so slowly? These scientists are no more intelligent than I, yet they make continual progress while my own research continues to stagnate. It's just a matter of experience, that's all it is. They are more familiar with their tools and they have more information at their disposal. Were I in their shoes, I would have finished that ridiculous project of theirs months ago! I must work harder to account for my handicap. I shall eat and sleep in the lab, and allow for no distractions, not until my so called peers have learned to respect the name of Sir Edwyn Stonewell.
  +
*Samantha:... I can see such arrogance in him that he is denying.
  +
*(Stonewell): At last, success! I have finally been able to convert this "glowcharge" into proper electricity. Subsequently, I used it to create not only a glowcharge battery, but a lantern as well. It was a simple matter, really. It's baffling that these supposed scientists haven't managed it already. Based on their surprise when I showed them my new invention, my earlier supposition was correct: they've barely scratched the surface of glowcharge and Stonewellium's full potential. Soon enough, I'll have surpassed their understanding of both. Yet if they expect me to share the full fruits of my research with them, they are sadly mistaken. Those who doubt the genius of Sir Edwyn Stonewell shall never reap its rewards!
  +
*Samantha:... Such egomaniacal foolishness.
  +
*(Stonewell): I have at last persuaded Dinia to show me this grand project those bumbling scientists are working so hard on. I am hardly impressed. If I had to guess, I would say that this 'Escape Project' is merely aping the transporter platforms present at the base of every obelisk, and crudely at that. Everyone is quite excited about it, the small minded simpletons. Why are they so eager to leave this place, where the impossible is within reach? They speak of "escaping" as though this were some kind of prison, when in reality, it is a land full of unparalleled promise and possibility.
  +
*Samantha: Well, it's a prison in anyone's definition. The wildlife here is not very hospitable. Especially the marine worms we barely escaped getting here.
  +
*(Stonewell): Thank goodness this Dinia woman is so agreeable. She seems to view me as her personal responsibility, and as a result, she has served my whims rather well. All I need do is assume the guise of a kindly, curious old man and I can persuade her to see to my every need. I've nearly convinced her to escort me to the lower caverns, where molten Stonewellium is said to flow in abundance. Those caverns were the reason I came here in the first place, and I'm certain an excursion into their depths would yield invaluable insight. I need only push and prod just a bit more.
  +
*Samantha:... Clifton, at this point, I'm seeing that his manipulation isn't just for his survival anymore.
  +
*Clifton: Glad you finally said it.
  +
*(Stonewell): Once I upgraded my Glowcharge Lantern prototype to be vastly more portable and efficient, the village council could ignore my petitions no longer. I shall be accompanying an expedition to the lower caverns posthaste! At last, I shall be able to observe Stonewellium in its rawest, most natural state! Marvelous! I can hardly contain my excitement, though I must make an effort to. The barbarian woman has been glowering at me for days. I suspect if she could, she would watch my every move, and probably forbid Dinia from speaking to me. Fortunately, Miss Runner has been distracting her with trivialities, but I must still be cautious. That savage will turn to violence on a whim, and I must not provoke her.
  +
*Samantha:... At least someone doesn't trust him. Meya seems to have the right instinct.
  +
*(Stonewell): Thankfully, it seems I shall get a reprieve from all those nasty glares I've been receiving. Miss Runner has taken her pet barbarian with her on that fool's errand she's running to the obelisk. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say! I didn't bother to learn all the details of Miss Runner's mission, but it seems clear to me now that the obelisks are a waste to my endeavors now. It is the Stonewellium that matters now, so if she and her violent little lackey want to play explorer, so be it. In the meantime, I shall journey into the heart of these caverns to conduct real science, and make real progress. Excelsior!
  +
*Clifton: Good luck with that.
  +
  +
===='''Who Is Meya Liu?'''====
  +
Chinese-Esque Forest
  +
*Marcilene:... Hmmm... How interesting.
  +
*Cloakblade: What have you got, Marci?
  +
*Serpentos: Yeah, what's up?
  +
*Marcilene:... I found some... Peculiar scrolls in this chest that belongs to some... Animal Queen by the name of... Meya Liu. (Opens them and sees the poetic pinyin on them as well as the Chinese-themed pictures on them)... And she's written her adventures rather poetically.
  +
*Serpentos: A poet warrior? Rather conventional, but interesting.
  +
*Marcilene: Actually, it's got a poetic feel.
  +
*Cloakblade:... It's a Sauran language. My learning of that language is, still sparse.
  +
*Marcilene: Allow me. There are plenty of them on Zo. I believe I can translate.
  +
*(Meya): Where am I? How did I arrive? I have asked these questions many times since I awoke on this foreign shore, but I must stop. They do not matter. Their answers will not save me, but only give context that neither aides nor hinder my situation, so I will focus on a different question: how can I survive? This question always has an answer, though it is ever-changing, and it has helped me find resolve in moments of uncertainty or fear. Just days ago, I never thought I'd fear again. I thought my fear died with the things I have done for my hometown. Yet when I heard that giant roar of a monster and my retreat got me briefly drowned and washed onto the shores of this island, I know fear is exactly what I feel.
  +
*Cloakblade:... Interesting.
  +
*Serpentos: If kinda overly dramatic. Are we sure this is a real person's journal and that it's not a fictional read?
  +
*Marcilene: Well it lacks an author's name, so, this is someone's private journal, albeit, an artsy-fartsy one.
  +
*(Meya): I am armed and clothed now, though crudely. My stone spearhead makes me long for my village's weaponsmith, even wish for even the most low-level lazer pistol in the weapon market, but it serves. I use it to hunt the slow, fat birds that wander the coast. I do not know how such creatures survive here at all, but I am grateful for the meat they provide. Also grateful that they happened to be in good health, and bore little understanding that I was a danger to them, but I suspect this may change soon given the reaction of my first kills' flock. I save my arrows for the more dangerous creatures, like the dinosaurs with ears like fans, whose spit burns the things it touches. No, not just the creatures. They are not the only danger. Yesterday, I found footprints in the sand that were not my own. I am not alone.
  +
*Marcilene:... Well, she's an experienced survivor and fighter, at least.
  +
*Serpentos: "Yeah I doubt this would even exist if she was incompetent with nature survival."
  +
*(Meya): Defending my hometown during criminals taught me more in months than I learned in all the years before it. Among those lessons, men will always underestimate women in battle, pertain this to sexism or just immature false expectations if you would please.
  +
*Serpentos: "I would believe both, honestly."
  +
*(Meya): The other lesson: sentient beings, no matter what shape or size, can be crueler than any animal.
  +
*Serpentos: "But, how can animals be cruel if they're unsentient?"
  +
*Maricilene: "It's mainly meant to be artistic, Serp. He's basically an artsy way of saying "People Suck"."
  +
*(Meya): Both applied today. The footprints I found were not from one man, but three. All were a Haelic, an Augean, and a Simobe. Their eyes changed when they saw me, like rolves discovering a kneep. They were wrong. They were merely mutts desperate for an easy target but of poor judgment. I was the rolf. Two died to arrows after ignoring my warnings. The last to my spear. But before any reader besieges me as a monster for doing this, I didn't do this without second thought. I know perhaps these men had families or loved ones wherever they came from and that any action they would've done to me was for survival's sake. But consider this, they failed to take a warning seriously. They were also impudent. The words they say and the intentions they had, I rather not repeat in this book. Suffice to say, I feel no loss of conscience of what I assume to be folks that have long embraced survival and deemed me a threat as I did them. A pity that I was forced to confirm it cause of their own bad choice. I left their bodies out in the wild. I cannot stay here. The beaches are too open. To survive, I must brave the jungle.
  +
*Serpentos:... Brutal.
  +
*Marcilene: Unfortunately, that's the law of being out in the wild. It's eat or be eaten, and kill or be killed. As sentient animals, with the exception of Serpentos, we should know that.
  +
*(Meya): Today, I scored a great victory. As the sunsets, I happened upon a small village on a bluff. Unfortunately, it was besieged by a man who rode a raptor and wielded a torch. I know not of his reasons, perhaps the village leader did something malevolent and this rider decided personal vengeance. But even if so, the innocents being made to suffer this attack is dramatically overkill just to punish one ungrateful action. It would have been safer to retreat, but I could not ignore the bodies. Regardless of the rider's reasoning, this was a slaughter. Surprise can be a warrior's most powerful weapon, and I wielded it effectively. My first arrow found the raptor's throat, and many more pierced the man's back once he tumbled from the saddle. He never saw his vanquisher. In hindsight, I should have spared the beast. A mount would be welcome.
  +
*Serpentos:... (Sighs)... She was starting out, I can't blame her for this murder.
  +
*Marcilene: When it comes to survival, murder laws are nonexistent.
  +
*Cloakblade: "And to be fair, she did acknowledge that the rider may had a reason for what he did, but we have to consider that his reasons were outweighed by the people he was hurting for what is merely the actions of one or two individuals.
  +
*(Meya): The surviving villagers let me claim the raptor rider's armor and weapons, and gave me shelter for the night. To my surprise, I understood them. Their mouths moved strangely, but in my ears I heard the language of my home. They say it is the work of some strange devices internally wired into them. I do not understand, but they had no reason to lie, so, I'll humor this strange truth for now. That night, I dreamt of a fight between my old teacher Guoylu, lifting the siege on his village in a single, gallant charge. But I was Guoylu. Yet when I woke, I was just Meya Liu, and the villagers were gone. I am a stranger to them, but my heart feels heavier for their loss. I must carry on alone.
  +
*Marcilene:... She must have been through a lot back home.
  +
*(Meya): The villagers had made taming beasts sound simple, but my first attempt was nearly my last. My prey was a raptor just like the raider's steed, but this one was strong. Even as my toxin-laced arrows knocked him out, he was able to make one final lunge for my arm. He nearly took it. Carefully, I fed him scraps of meat as he rested, and when he finally woke, I kept my weapon trained on him. Only when I was sure that he was docile did I notice his appearance, all blackish-green, save his glittering shins and feet. Right then, I named him Suave, and while I do not believe in fate, I felt that this beast would carry me home.
  +
*Serpentos: Aww, she made a friend.
  +
*Cloakblade: A rather strong one at that, too. Also rather sour at first given the near loss of an arm.
  +
*(Meya): The raptors are improving. They know to follow Suave, and Suave knows to listen to me. These raptors were actually Suave's pack, and the alpha, which I have nicknamed Injured-Hand, had to take another beating when Suave being tamed by someone with my skill threatened his leadership. But they're still inexperienced. Beasts without riders cannot maintain a formation, but they at least run close together. In time, they have even learned how to attack and retreat at my signal during our hunts on the plains. Together, Suave and his five pack members, including Injured-Hand, are like a light cavalry unit, and I am their commander. Unfortunately, they are all I really have. I am not much of a craftsman, and have few possessions. Not everyone here is like me, though. There may be some who can craft but cannot fight. Perhaps we could trade.
  +
*Serpentos: And she even tamed his family.
  +
*Cloakblade: How intriguing. She's more experienced in survival than I thought.
  +
*Marcilene: "Though how did those raptors know to find him?"
  +
*Serpentos: "I'm sure if we were paired with an animal expert, they say something like smells and scents and whatnot."
  +
*(Meya): The defense went spectacularly. Like many tribes, The Red Claws relied entirely on brute force. They thought only of charging in with their beasts and their guns, with no regard for their surroundings. They never expected a sortie, much less one that came from their exposed flank. Our victory was so complete that my benefactors not only rewarded me with the weapons and supplies they promised, but extra pack animals to carry them. With each battle, my skills improve and my ranks swell, if only with beasts. I don't mind that. The people that I care about are back home. Until I return with the right stories to tell, Suave is enough company.
  +
*Cloakblade:... And she grew in animal companions.
  +
*Seprentos: "Yeah I am starting to see where the animal queen idea came from."
  +
*(Meya): I was told this escort mission would be dangerous, but I had not expected to fight a legitimate army. Fortunately, I was riding ahead of the main column and spotted them first. After signaling for the convoy to change course, I harassed the enemy from their flanks to draw their attention, then retreated in a different direction. Even that cost me. Many of Suave's brothers were injured and some were killed, though ironically, Injured-Hand, the one with a permanent injury, survived with little scratches. Not that he could avoid any scratch. Previously, my enemies here fought wildly or scattered when attacked, but these men had discipline. They would've done much worse. The leader of the convoy was very grateful. Apparently, few survive an encounter with this "Artegerent Legion". I should be wary of them in the future.
  +
*Serpentos: Even an ARMY is no match for her! Amazing.
  +
*(Meya): Am I a mercenary now? I had not given it much thought until I was actually called one. I don't like the title. Mercenaries fight for riches, but I'm just fighting for what I need to survive. That's different, isn't it? When I fought back home, I knew who and what I was fighting for. I knew who my enemies were. Here I cannot tell. I am trying to be honorable by defending people and not attacking them, but how can I be certain? I cannot dwell on it. To survive, I must fight on. To complete my crusade, I must fight on.
  +
*Serpentos:... Hmm. Crusade? I suppose she was on the island for a greater purpose.
  +
*Marcilene: Most likely.
  +
*(Meya): I've started to tame larger creatures. The speed of my light cavalry was beneficial, but I realized that it was not enough. A hundred swift strikes mean nothing if there is no strength behind them. To survive enemies like the Artegerent Legion, I must be able to strike with power. I began with the ones that look like larger raptors, but with horns on their foreheads, or 'Taurotyrannus' as they're called. I was never one for dinosaur biology. But these tauros, they balance strength and speed well, and will serve well as the core of my forces. When I have enough tauros, I will add some of the giants. Maybe then I'll finally have the strength to find my place on this inhospitable planet.
  +
*Marcilene:... And she's growing further with the predators.
  +
*Serpentos: Hooray for her.
  +
*(Meya): When I tried to leave the island I was stranded on, I realized I am living on no ordinary island. It was a cursed island. I managed to tame a great spytorannus and a dominoraptor, I left to find a way off of this treacherous island to continue my outside journey, but I soon found myself traveling in circles. Worse still, I'm told that a magical barrier prevents ships from sailing too far from the shore, and birds from flying too high to leave the island. It seems that this barrier allows things in, but never out. It was never a matter of strength. There is no path home at all. Suave seems to sense my unease. These days, I often wake to find him nestled beside me. At least I am not trapped here alone.
  +
*Serpentos:... Aw.
  +
*Marcilene: Well someone's become a sweetheart all of a sudden.
  +
*Serpentos: Just keep translating.
  +
*(Meya): I laughed for the first time in weeks today. A man from a small tribe of fishermen sought to hire me, but he didn't call me by my name. He called me, the "Animal Queen". I could not keep a straight face. But I suppose I understand the title. Since my compromised expedition and failure to get off the island, I have staked out a small swath of land to live on more permanently, and the locals know it as my pack's hunting ground. Still, I'm hardly a queen. My "castle" is little more than a shack. But at the same time..... I'd rather be called a queen than a mercenary though, so I may as well embrace it.
  +
*Cloakblade:... At least she has a sense of humor.
  +
*(Meya): I wonder what my adopted father would think of me now. Would he be proud of me when I march off into a dangerous battle like this? This wasn't like the battles back home. A hero's battle. This was a bigger battle than he had seen his entire life, and he was concerned when I left. I know my original father, who died to Boss Iilong when I was just 2, wanted a son. That's why he sought to train me in secret before that awful tragedy. Luckily his friend, the great Master Guoylu, fulfilled that wish in his absence. Would either father accept an Animal Queen instead? Mother certainly wouldn't approve if she was alive either. The other villagers were too desperate to care about my gender when I joined the fight against Iilong's syndicate, but mother wanted different things from me. That's one of the things I remembered at such an early age. I bet she wouldn't even look at me now. Should I mind? Those were Meya Liu's parents, from Meya Liu's life. MY life. And sometimes I wonder if that life was even real. Maybe I was always a beast, and never a woman. Still, I had another role-model as a father. Even the great Master Guoylu feared for my safety when I left. He'd certainly be surprised I have a family of unsentient animals. After all, I had a pet who died in my final battle against Iilong. Five small multisaurs whom I adopted when I was living briefly as a street vrat in a time I thought Guoylu was dead. They died for me, and I'll always be grateful for their sacrifice. Now their legacy lives on in Suave and my army of animals. I am the Animal Queen, and I shall live up to that title.
  +
*Cloakblade:... And great spirit to boot.
  +
*(Meya): I have finally found a beast that I cannot command. No, to call him a beast is not enough. He is a demon. But I needed a more clever name than just 'Demon' or 'Demon King', or something. People have heard stories about this creature, but didn't have a name for it. It was called a Massosaurus, and it was a species hardly documented as it is extremely rare, and for good reason. They can camouflage themselves with limited color-change, they can mimic other animal sounds, and most importantly, their testosterone and adrenaline levels are through the roof. I met this mighty monster when I was stalking a pair of ceroraptors, waiting for an opportunity to bring them into my pack, when he tore through the treeline to steal their kill. He dwarfed even the tyrannuses in size, and in fury he surely has no equal in this world. When his foes bit at him, his eyes glowed with hatred and he struck with renewed vigor. I have never seen such terror. Even I dare not challenge this creature. Such fury was unnatural... Fury. That what I shall call him. Fury.
  +
*Cloakblade:... Just goes to show that not all creatures can be curbed.
  +
*Serpentos: "Ya know, if Veta was here, she'd be diffidently wanting to publicize this book into an action story."
  +
*Marcilene: "Well that's isn't particularly respectful to someone's private thoughts."
  +
*Serpentos: "Tell that to her when she tried the same with all the HA's private diaries."
  +
*Marcilene: (Sighs) Then we better leave these out of her reach.
  +
*(Meya): A Tiikon named Heili arrived at my camp yesterday, though not to hire me. She said that she was a scholar studying the creatures on this island, and that she wanted to observe my beasts. I turned her away at first, not trusting her intentions. How could I? What mad fool would bother with scholarly pursuits in a place like this? Yet she persisted, and in time I was convinced of her honesty. I don't know if I made the right decision. Heili is constantly asking strange questions. Why does she need to know so much about my beasts' feces and mating behavior? What a bizarre person.
  +
*Marcilene:... She wasn't kidding about being a novice at biology. Analyzing feces is how you study an animal's diet.
  +
*Cloakblade: Indeed, but not all are jovial about an unsanitary act.
  +
*(Meya): When Heili arrived, I was constantly glancing in her direction, wondering just what she was scribbling in that thick book of hers. Now I hardly notice her unless we're speaking. The questions haven't stopped, but thankfully they aren't always about things like animal feces. Sometimes we just talk about something simple, like cooking. Neither of us are very good at it, but together we've managed to make a few things that tasted better than plain meat. Yet before long, my territory will be silent once more. Heili says she has to move on, and war is brewing in the south. Someone will need my sword very soon.
  +
*Cloakblade: Hmm... I suppose this is when she's going to prove her worth.
  +
*(Meya): The war in the south is not an ordinary one. According to the member of the Dyesharks that arrived to hire me, his tribe is fighting the Artegerent Legion. I admit, that gave me pause. They were formidable before, and they've grown even stronger since we last met. Yet I have grown stronger too, and the Sharks were clearly in desperate straights. I could not turn them away. As I readied for war, I recalled a dream I had many months ago. I still don't believe in fate, but maybe this is my nature. On this island, maybe I can actually be like my surrogate father.
  +
*Serpentos:... Alright, this oughtta be good.
  +
*(Meya): My beasts are precisely what the Sharks lacked. Most of their martial strength lies at sea. On land, they lacked a unit with the ferocity of a true vanguard. Without that, they could merely withstand the Legion's siege, not break it. That changed when my beasts crashed into the Legion's rear like a great wave. I can still hear the cheers as the Legion fled. I can feel the echo of the emotion that swelled in my chest. If I could return home, I imagine that is what I would feel like. I won't dare forget it.
  +
*Serpentos:... Huh. She did it. She was REALLY starting to scare this Legion, I bet.
  +
*(Meya): Sometimes I fear that I have grown fangs or horns without noticing. What else can explain the way others look at me? In battle the Sharks cheer me, but afterwards we rarely speak. I camp separately and only am summoned when it's time to discuss strategy. I do not understand. Trust is rare on this island. I know that. But have I not bled in their defense? Have my beasts not died fighting their battles? Perhaps it's just the strain of war. We're in Legion territory now, taking the battle to them. Soon the war will be won. Surely then the Sharks will not fear me.
  +
*Serpentos: Oh, it's about to go on. So, she wins, right?
  +
*Marcilene:... MY! These look like angry words. So, I'm guessing no.
  +
*(Meya): When anger rises, think of the consequences. I know this by heart, yet I cannot help but seethe with fury. Even Suave is keeping his distance. Last night, I awoke to the sound of thunder coming from the Shark's main camp. I rushed to their aid, but blinded by the night and consumed with panic, they attacked my pack. By the time order was restored, we'd both sustained losses. Clearly this was the work of the enemy, but those fools blame me for the confusion. Some even claim I torched their camp. How dare they question my honor after all I've done? Cowards! They have no right!
  +
*Cloakblade:... Shameful. Only a fool would do so.
  +
*Marcilene: Well, it's like she said, war tends to mess with people's minds. It was obviously a ploy for the enemy to turn them against their trump card.
  +
*Serpentos: Yeah, makes sense.
  +
*(Meya): I should have foreseen this. Though I put my pride aside, those audacious Sharks could not. At their behest, I began the long trek back to my own territory this morning. They say that they will finish the war without me. Doubtful. Without my pack at the van, the Artegerent Legion will surely smash them to pieces. But what can I do? I cannot protect them if they do not want my protection. Will the Legion come for me afterwards? I cannot say, but if they do, I know that I will receive no aid. I must rely on my own strength, and right now I fear it insufficient. I need to become stronger.... I need Fury.
  +
*Serpentos:...
  +
*Cloakblade:...
  +
*Marcilene:... Looks like she just decided to take a greater risk than ever before. After how she described this Fury creature before, I don't think she'd ever dare cross paths with it again.... Yet here she is, relying on it's power to fight against this Artegerent Legion.
  +
*Serpentos: Does she succeed?
  +
*Marcilene: Well, let's find out.
  +
*(Meya): He is mine. After a mighty struggle, the power of Fury is now mine to unleash. The cost was almost too great. I brought only my swiftest beasts on the hunt, hoping to run him in circles, but even still he managed to kill many of them. Were it not for Suave, and, perplexingly enough, Injured-Hand, even at the cost of his injured hand, he may have killed me as well, but my Suave is both swift and cunning. He knew exactly what distance to maintain, exactly when to retreat. No steed could prove more true. And an additional bonus was that afterward, Injured-Hand was treated as the beta of my raptors.... Well... Gamma if I count myself. Tomorrow I must begin acclimating Fury to life in my pack, but for tonight, I will allow myself to celebrate.
  +
*Marcilene:... Yep.
  +
*Serpentos: Well, that was amazing.
  +
*Cloakblade: Yet, as usual, blood could not remain unshed.
  +
*(Meya): I was wise to test Fury's hunting skills from atop one of my flying beasts. When he stumbled down a small rock formation, his eyes glowed with that familiar hatred and suddenly he proved deaf to my commands. In time, he calmed down and obeyed me once more, but it was a fearsome thing to witness. I think I will keep him apart from the other beasts. Not only will it keep them safe, but it will calm their nerves. They have been tense since his arrival. I cannot blame them. Fury's power could save or doom us. I must use him with extreme care.
  +
*Serpentos:... And already she's getting herself used to this giant Fury of hers. Impressive.
  +
*(Meya): Am I making a mistake? Maybe. The closer that great pillar of light gets on the horizon, the more my concern grows. It is a gamble, no question. Heili said that she did not know if this pillar of light will behave like the other one. Yet if it does, if we are transported to some other plane to battle a monster for a mysterious key, then there's a chance that this could be the first step on the path home. If not that, then at least a path away from this island and the Artegerent Legion. Technically Heili has hired me, but that small chance is payment enough. It's worth the risk. I hope I am prepared.
  +
*Serpentos:... Hmm.... And she's ALSO started a new adventure.
  +
*Marcilene: And it's one I have an itching feeling may be the most important one of her life. The one she was looking for.
  +
*(Meya): Had I let fear rule me and left Fury behind, then Heili and I would be dead. Only with his strength were we able to defeat the gigantic ape. His rage cost some of my pack their lives in the aftermath, but that was the price of victory. The price of hope. And again, spontaneously, Injured-Hand lived. But his other hand was gone. The key we were rewarded with matches the one Heili already had. The means the third pillar must lead to a third key. And when combined? What then? It's uncertain, but if each pillar takes us somewhere, then maybe their combined power can take us anywhere. Maybe it can take us off this prison of an island.
  +
*Serpentos:... Looks like she's going to go back on this journey of her's after all.
  +
*Marcilene:... Oh dear.... Looks like things got downhill fast. Listen to this.
  +
*(Meya): Damn those Artegerent Legion cowards! At full strength, I could have fended them off, but they attacked just as we returned to the pillar of light. What beasts I had were exhausted, and Fury flew into a rage before I could start a retreat. When that happened, all hope was lost. All my beasts were killed. Every single one. Fury fell off a cliff to his death as his rage got the better of him. Even Injured-Hand. With both his hands gone, he couldn't maintain balance and was eaten alive by one of the Artegerent's giants.... Well, all were gone... Except one. The last thing I remember is a sharp pain in my side. When I awoke, I was alone with Suave. Both of us were covered in blood, but Suave's wounds were deeper. I cannot fathom how he carried me to safety in such a state. I must find a place to hide. Suave and I are alone now, and barely clinging to hope.
  +
*Serpentos:... Oh dear.
  +
*Cloakblade: How unfortunate she lost all the family she had so easily.
  +
*Marcilene:... Oh... These are the words of sadness. Well, that, and the tear stains on this scroll. Seems like... She lost the last, and first, tame she ever had. Seems the wounds her favorite raptor had... Proved too fatal.
  +
*(Meya): My dearest friend is gone. To his last he was magnificent. The creatures that attacked us were larger and with his wounds they were even faster, but no beast could ever match Suave in spirit. I buried him where he fell, saving me one last time. I was unworthy of such a loyal friend, but I will avenge him. His true murderers will pay. Not the beasts, but the Artegerent Legion. They are responsible. I swear by the souls of my ancestors that I will find their leader and drive my blade into his heart! In Suave's name I will take his head!
  +
*Serpentos:... Spirit, all the way.
  +
*Cloakblade: Proud for her spirit.
  +
*(Meya): As I thought, the Legion was at the last pillar of light. I sighted them as they departed, and have been following them since. They are too many for me to fight head on. If they spot me, I will be killed, but I know how to hide from sight and mask my scent from their beasts. It did not take long to discern which one was the leader. No one else walks with his pride or gestures with his authority. I could probably have hit him with an arrow by now, but I want him to see my face. I want him to know that the Animal Queen vanquished him.
  +
*Cloakblade:... Well, looks like she's getting close.
  +
*(Meya): I soon regretted freeing Heili from her cage before following the Legion through the portal they opened. She was too focused on the wonders around us. When she saw that most of the Legion was dead, she even tried to dissuade me from killing their leader. After I explicitly told her I wanted him to pay righteously for killing the closest I had to a family since Guoylu, I knocked her unconscious when she ignored my arguments. I wish her no harm but I cannot let her interfere. At least she told me his name: Nervay. That is the man I will kill here, on this most fitting stage. I admit, it is beautiful. The stars shine so clearly. I can think of no better place for my vengeance. Here, at the edge of heaven, let our battle finally be decided.
  +
*Marcilene:... Oh dear. This is the last scroll.
  +
*Serpentos: So, did she win or what?
  +
*Marcilene:... Let's find out. (Deep breath)...
  +
*(Meya): I suspect Nervay knew that he would not fare well in battle. After taking a couple blows from my sword, he dashed off into the darkness. However, I know he was deeply wounded. His blood cannot lie. I suspect this command center was created by something with technology far beyond most normal comprehension. In the distance I can see a perfect spatial view of the planet, and I had not known that most of it was the wasteland I saw before I was scared onto the island that was now below me. I am now sure that I could find another area to continue my journey now that I was free. But disturbing of all, I saw what looked like giant reptilian beings off on the ground. I couldn't see what they looked like from such a high altitude, but I would rather not go anywhere near until I know what they were. But first things first, I had a family to avenge. Though that scoundrel Nervay must have escaped before he could meet his death. Little does he know, I won't give up that easily, I will find him in whatever realm he travels to. There is a terminal that sits upon a platform near the end of the command center. Surely, through some combination of codes, that must unlock travel to other lands on this planet. But it does not. It only adds another foe to be slain by the Animal Queen. After Nervay is killed for his crimes... I must continue on my journey. Though in the event I should not survive... This will be my last scroll before I truly leave the island.
  +
*Serpentos:... Oh, great. A cliffhanger.
  +
*Cloakblade: I'm sure she's still alive. Her fame seemed to have reached the ears of many animals on this planet. In fact, if you were to say the name, many animals seem to have a response. Watch. (Clears throat)... MEYA LIU!!! (The words echoed as many animals had mixed reactions and mostly retreated)... So, she's likely still alive.
  +
*Serpentos: But where is she?
  +
*Cloakblade: That, is a good question.
  +
*Marcilene: "Then let us seek the answer of that riddle out."
  +
  +
(Later...) Lapse Wastes
  +
*Cloakblade:... It appears we have found more notes from Meya.
  +
*Serpentos: So she IS alive!
  +
*Marcilene:... Indeed. Let's see what she's been up to. (They read the scrolls)
  +
*(Meya): Where have I been taken? When I tried to pull my sword from that machine to free us from Nervay's merciless cold grip, there was a bright flash and suddenly I was in this desolate place without Heili. Whatever that device was, I must have broken it, and it must've sent me and Heili to different places. Nervay wasn't done, though. We fought and he scarred me. But then something happened. He was burning up and showing signs of radiation poisoning. He was burning. I felt it too and took cover in the shadows, and I watched, rather happily in an excessive manner, as Nervay was burned alive. Despite what he's done, part of me thinks that I should bury him. He was a tyrant, but he still died a warrior's death. For now, I will bandage the wound on my face and rest. It is becoming night as I write this, and it will be safe to explore at this time.
  +
*Serpentos:... Arbasus.
  +
*Cloakblade: That must've been absolute hell for Nervay to die like that.
  +
*Mercilene: I can imagine so. Radiation is very merciless when it kills.
  +
*(Meya): I was fortunate today. The sun was rising as I found some kind of cave underneath a boiling pool of water, and had I not found at it, I would never be writing this next chapter of my journey for my family. When the sun came, I ran for it as fast as I could. My legs ached and smoke was rising from my armor by the time I arrived, yet I was still alive. So now the sun was trying to kill me. Perhaps I was delirious, but I laughed at the notion. Monsters and armies have failed, so let the sun have its chance. I will defeat it too. But monsters? As a reptilian being, I could hold my breath underwater for a long time, but I still needed to get air. I figured I'd reach my destination by the time my lungs gave out, but I encountered these bizarre marine worms. They tried to consume me. I swam as fast as I could, and almost drowned by a second had I not reached my destination and decapitated five of those monstrous worms.
  +
*Cloakblade:... Impressive.
  +
*Serpentos: At this point, nothing can even kill her. Not even Nervay or someone worse than him.
  +
*(Meya): Yesterday, I realized that I could rest no longer. I had no more spare cloth for bandages and had eaten nearly all the moss nearby. Rather than risk the heat of the sun on the surface, I ventured deeper into the caverns. It was a treacherous descent, but I am glad I went. This cave is larger than I could have imagined. In fact, it is hardly a cave at all. A great forest flourishes down here. It is as if this whole land is backwards. However, there is one thing that is familiar to me. The air is thick with the sound and smell of wild beasts. I must remain on my guard.
  +
*Serpentos: Given how alien this place looks, I'd say so.
  +
*(Meya): The light down here does not burn like the light on the surface. Not even the light that comes from the ceiling. I do not understand why, but I am glad for it. I was attacked by a pack of small monsters with spines on their backs. In another life, they would have terrified me, but now I fear no beast. I slew many of them, but more kept appearing. Even after killing the largest of them, they did not hesitate. Only when I neared a strange, glowing pillar did they retreat. They seem to fear the unusual light it emits. I should use that weakness against them.
  +
*Cloakblade:... She seems to have encountered the Eerioses of these caves.
  +
*Marcilene: Indeed she has. She was fortunate, again.
  +
*(Meya): I finally removed the bandages from my face. While I avoided infection, the wound will surely scar. I do not mind, and neither does my new companion. In fact, I had just removed my bandages when I first saw him. From the branch of a great tree, he stared down at me with curious eyes. I stared back just as curiously. It looked almost like a young jeer, but its fur was colorful and it glowed like a fallen star. He reminded me of the paintings I'd seen of Zoian creatures, but he seemed too small. Whatever he is, he approached me so innocently that I could not leave him behind. So now he is Sho, my little light in the dark.
  +
*Serpentos: Aww, she found a new friend.
  +
*Marcilene: Yes. I hope she fought well for Suave in this new environment.
  +
*(Meya): Navigating the forest has been easier with Sho at my side. His light has both guided and protected me. The small, spined monsters that I fought before returned in numbers, but they cowered and fled before Sho's light, as they did from the glowing pillar. So long as Sho is with me, I need not fear them. Yet Sho's power is not an endless well. If he does not periodically extinguish his light to rest, it will fade with time on its own. I must be careful when wandering into the darkest parts of this glowing blue forest, lest Sho's light go out and we are both put at risk.
  +
*Serpentos:... Strategic instinct continues to serve her well.
  +
*(Meya): Even with Sho's help, I can only do so much on foot. I need a reliable steed that can carry me swiftly through the forest and help me gather resources like Suave did. Fortunately, I may have found such a beast. The other night, I heard many howls in the distance. When I investigated, I found a pack of strange beasts that looked like hairless rolves. They are ugly, vicious creatures but they are the perfect size for riding. For now, I shall stalk the pack. When one of the rolves is separated from the others, then I will knock it out with my arrows, and claim it for my own.
  +
*Serpentos:... Interesting. She found a pack of vulves. And now she'll be able to ride one.
  +
*(Meya): I have named my wolf Bleak. Though no beast can replace Suave, Bleak is swift and fierce, just as he was. Upon his back, I can travel across the forest with ease. Yet I know that Bleak alone is not enough. In these lands, the strong will dominate the weak, and they will try to destroy those who do not submit. I am reminded of this every time my scar aches. To survive I must grow stronger. It is time to rebuild my army, starting with Bleak's family. I feel that, just like Suave, I must bring Bleak's pack into my cause. It seems right.
  +
*Serpentos: Indeed it does. That's what I would've done, too.
  +
*Cloakblade: Precisely.
  +
*Marcilene: Amen.
  +
*(Meya): Yesterday, I stalked a giant shelled crustaceous beast that resembled a sleek tetrus, and also had with it four large claws that it could use like hands. Though slow, it seemed strong. I decided it would be a good addition to my army, but before I could attempt to bring it down, something swooped down from the sky to attack it. It was a great lizard, but not one like the ones I had seen before. No, this beast was a true dracthon, long of body with a feathery mane. It used the feathers on its arms to ride the wind and tore its prey's shell asunder with iron claws. When it was finished with its meal, it scaled the cavern wall and became one with the shadows, vanishing entirely from my sight. I have found my new prey. Soon, I shall command the might of a dracthon.
  +
*Marcilene:... A Rockour. Just like the ones Johno rode... Except with feathers.
  +
*Serpentos: Sounds like she'd fit right in with a wild place like this.
  +
*Marcilene: Looks like it.
  +
*(Meya): The dracthon was even more formidable than I expected. At first, Bleak and his pack was able to dance around the beast while I riddled it with arrows, but I underestimated how far its feathered arms could take it. Its sudden leap left, Bleak's leg was wounded and I was flung from the saddle. The crippled rolf could not fight after that, but thanks to his pack, I was able to survive myself by taking to the trees. By the time the dragon succumbed to my knockout poison, it's hide was full of arrows. Bleak needed some time for his leg to heal when I found it wasn't a serious injury. His first real challenge was one that I thanked with major gratitude. Thanks to him, I possess the strength of a dracthon. I am the Animal Queen once more.
  +
*Serpentos: WOOHOO! Way to go, Meya!
  +
*(Meya): Travelling through the cave is easy thanks to my dracthon, who I have named Dagon. I have discovered that the cave is even larger than I imagined. Beyond the forest, there are tunnels that lead further down into the ground, to a land of glistening water and plants that glow like Sho does. How far down does it go? If I keep going, will I find something akin to hell? I do not know, but I will press on. I cannot return home, or even to the island I came from. My enemy lies dead far behind me, and I have found no friends or allies. I have no aim beyond simply surviving. So for now, all I can do is move forward. My familial destiny awaits.
  +
*Serpentos: Good for her!
  +
*(Meya): The beasts of this land grow stranger the deeper I go. Yesterday I was attacked by a swarm of flying demons with writhing tentacles in place of heads. I think they were after Sho. Where some monsters feared his light, these ones hungered for it. However, they were no match for Dagon's fangs and my blade together. Still, I will keep Sho close and have him extinguish his light for now. I could not bear it if he came to harm. Of everyone I have met in these lands, only Sho has stayed by my side of his own will. Even Suave had to be laid low first. I suppose there was that woman from the island too, but she is gone. Besides, I struck her. I doubt we were friends.
  +
*(Meya): I have finally built an army I can call my own. The creatures here had many of their own specialties. Most were like the ones I encountered on the island, including more raptors. But they had their own glow like Sho did. But as I took a bath in the cascading soothing waters of the forests, I saw that I was not alone by sentience after all. I had found people peeping at me like naughty men, and the footprints I found in their place confirmed they belonged to no beast. Yet if sentient beings left those footprints, they move like no one I have ever seen. They are deep, as though their feet hit the ground with great force, and they often have huge gaps between them. No man can leap that far, yet there are no beast tracks that accompany them. Perhaps if I move carefully, I can track and observe them. Whether they are friend or foe, I should learn more about them before I act.
  +
*Cloakblade:... How rude of some people to see her as she bathes.
  +
*Marcilene: It's called the instinct to reproduce. It makes men disgusting and perverse.
  +
*(Meya): Where did I make my mistake? I moved in silence and never once left the shadows, but somehow they saw me. I mounted Dagon in an instant, but somehow they still caught up to me. Had we fought, the battle may have been difficult. There were only four of them and I had Dagon alone when I followed those sentient beings who were spying on me, but their weapons and armor glowed like moonlight and their movements were swift. I was about to strike first when one of them raised her hands and took off her helmet, revealing that she was a Skorner, one of the races of the UIS. She convinced her friends to lower their weapons, but even as I write, I keep one hand on mine. We may share a camp tonight, but I dare not sleep.
  +
*Marcilene:... She made a sentient friend quicker than I expected, even though she's not a friend at the very moment.
  +
*(Meya): The armored ones had many questions when they awoke. They were surprised that I had raised Dagon and my beasts that they escorted to their camps myself, and even more surprised that I came from a different land of monsters. That seemed important to them. I asked questions too. They say it is their armor that lets them see at night and move with such speed. I did not believe it until the Skorner let me wear her helmet. The metal it was made from could recognize a touch and digitally accommodate my head. With it I could see through darkness as though it were bathed in green light, or see the red shadows of distant creatures. It was like magic. Then again, everyone says technology and magic are indistinguishable from each other. Yet I prefer to see technology like magic. They asked if I wanted to stay in their village for a time. I told them that I would return to my camp and pick up my supplies before I return as it seems they missed it when they gathered my army. I doubt I will stay long... But I want to see more of this magic.
  +
*Marcilene:... Indeed, she just might be a friend after all.
  +
  +
===='''Who Is Rav?'''====
  +
Scorchar Desert
  +
*Radcliff:... Well this makes no dag nabit sense! These tablets are accounting the life of someone named... Rav RaSkyne, a self-proclaimed leader of some lost city.
  +
*Stephanie: Lost city?
  +
*Radcliff: Apparently these giant obelisks destroyed it and sunk it underground. I'll be damned if I knew why.
  +
*Stephenie:... Maybe reading these tablets can give us some info on how this Scyrian technology works.
  +
*Radcliff: "Not a bad idea, hun, but.... I don't think either of us can READ this gibberish! It's amazing I even got the name right!"
  +
*Qolma: Maybe I can help you with that. (She reads them)... Yeah, I can DEFINITELY do that.
  +
*Radcliff: Easy for you to say. You're a Magelian mage.
  +
*Qolma: Well, you're getting a translation, aren't you? Ahe-he-hem...
  +
*(Rav): Even at this distance the great obelisk is beautiful. It is like a pillar of Arta-Ra's light given solid form. I wish we could have made our camp right beside it, but the others thought that might draw unwanted attention. Some part of me wanted to call them cowards for that, but, a greater part acknowledges that I am not an invincible god or immortal, so, I'll humor the lack of bravery. At least we are close enough to be in its shadow and drink from the river that runs beneath it. I always face it when I pray to Plakmet, and though I can feel the skepticism in my companions' gazes, my faith is unshaken, for it was my faith that guided us here to this place rich with water and resources. All agree it is the ideal location for a settlement. Wherever we are, the gods are watching over us I know it.
  +
*Qolma:... It appears this Invervisaur was a philosophical priestess.
  +
*Radcliff: I kinda expected that from an Invervisaur.
  +
*Stephanie: Radcliff, please don't be assumptions!
  +
*Radcliff: "Hey, fair's fair, I've met alot of Invers that are like this one! So it's not being "Assumuious" if it's accurate!"
  +
*Stephanie: "Well I've met Athesist Invers, so it IS assumsuious!"
  +
*Radcliff: "Wait, atheist Invers are a thing?"
  +
*Qolma: "AHEM?! Can we get back to the story, lovebirds?"
  +
*(Rav): Construction has been going well. None of us are architects, but it wasn't a daunting task to adjust to such a rare role of our persons. Giru's broad shoulders and a booming laugh conceal a keen mind, and we started making better progress once I convinced him to stop hauling rocks and start drawing up plans that let Amiar focus on starting a garden where he is more at home. I have focused on trying to keep us organized and maintaining our spirits myself. I wish I could do more, sadly while a priestess has many gifts, manual labor is not one of them. I often find myself winded before midday. I pray that the others do not find me burdensome.
  +
*Qolma: Well, establishing a colony isn't very lucrative.
  +
*Radcliff: Still would've been nice if she did managed to pull her weight around. (Stephanie shoved him) Hey!
  +
*(Rav): Back in Luxem, I always tried to stay out of politics. I never aspired to be Divine Adoratrice as some priestesses did. I found that such selfish ambitions often led to suffering, both for oneself and for others. So when Giru referred to me as our leader today, I found myself surprised. I had tried to refused, but, Giru insisted the others won't accept a "Stand-in" in comparison to my guidance. I had never asked for such a position and the others had never bestowed it on me in any official manner. It just happened naturally. That same part of me that would call them cowards would've wanted me to keep true to my beliefs and be blunt in refusal, but, the same greater part kept true in that I bore no such luxuries in refusal, as the planet is one of an untamed nature where a group with no desired leader, or any at all, is doomed a failure. I am not sure what to make of it but if this is Plakmet's will then I will try to guide these people as best as I can.
  +
*Radcliff: Wow. Their leader, just like that? Where's the democracy here?!
  +
*Stephanie: I'm pretty sure they weren't in the position to have an election about this, all things considered about this planet dear.
  +
*Radcliff: She even admitted that politics weren't her thing! That means she had NO business to be a leader if you're not INTERESTED in being political!
  +
*Qolma: Well there's a lot of tablets, so odds are, she accommodated well.
  +
*(Rav): Our settlement has grown so quickly during these hectic months. So many wandering souls have found their way here seeking shelter and companionship, have done my best to welcome everyone I can. If treated with understanding most become productive loyal members of our community. But to any reader outside of myself, deem me not a "soft-hearted" fool, as it were. I nary forgotten the kind of natures a wild world can create. I know that hearts can have two natures. Plakmet had two hearts and two natures. One offers compassion while the other brings devastation. As we grow in size we become a riper target for those with malice in their hearts. Giru has tried to organize a militia but I fear it inadequate. For now I must be wary and pray that the gods send us a true warrior.
  +
*Stephanie:... Well, I may not be religious, but I too hope they do.
  +
*(Rav): It took longer than I'd hoped, but I believe the gods have heard my prayers. At least I believe so. When I imagined what a true warrior might be like, I cannot say that I imagined Captain Coopher. He speaks tersely, has no sense of decorum and in general is rather prickly. He was nigh unapproachable for a whole day when we decided his position should be called captain instead of the nonsense word he proposed. 'Sheriff' was it? Surely he forgotten he's in a world not yet of laws beyond the laws of nature. Yet he has been getting results, or so I am told. When I find time, I ought to observe him in action myself.
  +
*Radcliff: Sounds to me like she found herself a blowhard.
  +
*Stephanie: Oh definitely. Two dollars says they'll get together.
  +
*Radcliff: You're on.
  +
*(Rav): I am still not accustomed to the loud fiery weapons that our new captain is training his men to use. Their power is so destructive that it seems almost too much for any mortal being to possess. Yet Captain Coopher strolls up and down his line of trainees like they are wielding wooden swords, and twirls his own weapon almost absentmindedly. It is somewhat unnerving to find someone so calm around such potent instruments of death. But I suppose that is why he has had such success in securing our borders. I can only hope that we need but one Captain Coopher and that I never have to use those weapons myself.
  +
*Stephanie:... Well, glad to meet someone else who doesn't like guns. I mean, I know Rad, ya don't like it when I bring conflicting politics to this as typical of Keuca society, but they don't seem to have much popularity to everyone for their habit of killing with just one shot.
  +
*Radcliff: Eh, you just get over that and learn self-defense with it, and it's all good. That's how these UUniverses work.
  +
*Stephanie: "Well maybe to the beliefs of Keubrics, but Keucanics believe peacefuller approaches can resolve all conflicts."
  +
*Radcliff: "Well the crud load of wars and Iallog as a whole would have to say "Hold my beer" to that and go up to your face and say "Oh I'm sorry, am I nothing to you"?"
  +
*Stephanie: "(Sighs dejected), Okay, at least the dream is that peacefuller approaches should resolve things."
  +
*Qolma: "Not meaning to side with Flyboy here, but, to be fair in the case of this world, being civil is always thrown out the window when surviving is always a priority."
  +
*(Rav): It has been such a blessing to be able to spread Plakmet's joy and love to so many people, even at the face of mild skepticism of belief's supposed ill-placement in a wild world. At first, my daily prayers garnered but a few curious observers. Yet soon observations turned to questions, and questions turned to participation. Granted, there are the exceptions that questions just turned into more questions, and not always inviting ones and/or claims that belief is ill-placed here, but, I allow their beliefs. Being of faith does NOT always mean being a zealot. I would do Plakmet a dis-service if I harmed critics in his name, even in a world with little to hold such actions back. Now there are so many of us that we have even begun to construct a shrine. I truly wish that I could teach these eager new students all day long, but my duty to the village must come first. Perhaps when our future here is finally secured I shall be able to live the life of a priestess again, but for now I have too many people counting on me. I cannot abandon them.
  +
*Radcliff:... She's got dutiful instinct inside of her, AND she avoided the opportunity to go straight up zealot. I respect that.
  +
*(Rav): Names are a curious thing. We assign them great weight, yet they do not change the substance of the person, place, or thing they belong to. I suppose that line of thinking is why I never dwelled on the name of our humble village. Yet now that it has grown to become somewhat less humble our home can go nameless no longer. People must call it something. To that end, Krater Cention is as good a name as any. I am told that it means 'central core' in some old important language, and whatever our citizens intended that to symbolize when they chose it I know this: while we are here, we are under the protection of the gods.
  +
*Stephanie:... It's going to be one HELL of a shock when she finds out what those obelisks really are.
  +
*Radcliff: "That much can am gonna agree with."
  +
*(Rav): Lost souls from all across the desert continue to prostrate themselves before Krater Cention's gates. I adamantly refuse to turn away anyone that does not mean us any harm, even at mild dis-satisfaction of advisers, but, one thing I do take seriously from them is that my kind actions has left us with many mouths to feed. Truly the universes can be fickle to those of kind hearts. As a result, Krater Cention's fields are its most valuable asset. Fortunately, Giru's designs, and my organization of labor and resources have once again proven effective. Not only did we implement an efficient irrigation system, but we have encased our crops in a large protective structure made of the closest we could get to glass. Every morning it sparkles with a Arta-Ra's light, like a great gem, a beautiful reminder of what we can accomplish when we are united in purpose.
  +
*Radcliff: Glad to know that this 'Krater Cention' place was growing.
  +
*(Rav): Despite our best efforts and the blessing of the gods, tragedy is unavoidable in these strange lands. Yesterday it struck Krater Cention once more in the form of an M-Lucus attack, and while I could not undo what had been done, I hope that I was able to bring some small comfort to those who knew the victims best. Though we lack the resources to properly inter the dead in tombs, and mere burial without coffins leave the departed not completely devoured by the M-Lucus vulnerable to ground-borrowing scavengers to finish off at leisure, we still held a ceremony in their memory and I made time to speak privately with anyone who wished to. I would prefer my people to not bare ill-will for the creatures. They are products as intended of nature, what they did is not of malice, but of self-preservation, if admittingly, I suppose it's why we sentients have left behind nature. It's a harsh and fickle mistress, regardless of your awareness. Between that and my usual duties I am physically and emotionally exhausted, but when my people are suffering I can not afford to rest.
  +
*Stephanie:... M-Lucuses?
  +
*Qolma: Think of them as, raptor mangrises.
  +
*Stephanie:... Ohhh. Well, props for Rav for not encouraging hatred to animals.
  +
*(Rav): Early on I handled all of Krater Cention's trade negotiations, and I have had trouble growing out of the habit. I suppose that is why every caravan or hunter that passes through our gates knows my name. Some still insist on speaking with me personally. But I do not mind. I find these dealings rather engaging, if albeit samey after awhile. It is like playing a game of words. One such caravan arrived yesterday bearing a haul of metal ingots. Our venerable captain has suggested that I bring a contingent of guards to the negotiations, but I would rather not. If our guests are intimidated, they may back out and I would be remiss to waste such an opportunity.
  +
*Radcliff:... Mmm... My military instincts tell me this was no trade agreement.
  +
*Qolma:... You're right. It was a ransom attempt. But... Seems like she had a lot of problems with her captain's rescue.
  +
*(Rav): I shall gladly admit that I erred. I even admit that I owe Captain Coopher my life and offer him all the gratitude he is due. Yet that does not excuse such merciless behavior. Those so-called merchants may have stooped to viciousness and cruelty by trying to kidnap me for ransom, but that one had surrendered. The False Merchant decided to surrender the Ingots in returned of being spared, which of course, I'll grant him the mercy of the gods to allow. It's a fair enough trade, even if Coopher appeared deaf to this and wanted to execute him on the spot, but, the false merchant was lucky I kept the blood-hungry captain on a tight leash. But still.... I wished the now lone conman's friends did not had to die for a misguided venture. They were not evil, just desperate to try and bribed what they assumed to be a selfish well-off land to trade resources for my safety and perhaps assumed that gentler interactions would've been refused. It pains me they died with a false expectation while a survivor was left with painful memories. I do not want that kind of image to be representative of the belief I bring here. That would scare friendlier caravans or those too weak to survive on their own. It is so hard to see where light ends and darkness begins in this violent place of a planet. Perhaps if I could adequately protect myself we could have avoided needless bloodshed. Yes, I think it is time I shall master these explosive weapons, and Captain Coopher is going to help me.
  +
*Radcliff:... She was mad at her captain for protecting her the way one should in a place like this? I know that any keucanic would say killing may seem morally unacceptable, but that's the way it goes on many worlds.
  +
*Stephanie: Not that I want to be against Rav on her judgment, but, I can't entirely disagree here. Cloakblade had to learn that on her first mission as Invi.
  +
*(Rav): Step by step I am learning how to shoot. During my first few lessons the weapons almost jumped out of my hand when I fired them, but my arms have grown stronger and my aim truer. Captain Coopher’s presence has been helpful. The same calm that is found unnerving from afar has been steadying from up close. He does not waste his breath in exaggerated praise or criticism, he simply keeps me focused on what I need to do and everything else just falls away. Considering where I started, he has been very patient with me. Perhaps I should be more patient with him.
  +
*Radcliff:... Looks like they're warming up to each other.
  +
*(Rav): In ancient times, gentle Plakmet took the form of her monster side, and unleashed her wrath upon the Invervisaur world. Yet even during her relentless slaughter, her good side was within her bad side as much as her bad side was always within her good side, and when she was eventually calmed the peaceful goddess of joy and love returned. As it is with the goddess, so it is with mankind. The vicious can become kind, and the kindhearted can become violent for all his past transgressions. Captain Coopher is no different. He did not grasp Plakmet’s tale when I told it to him the other day, but if he keeps trying to better himself, then perhaps one day he will.
  +
*Radcliff:... They're DEFINITELY warming up with each other.
  +
*Stephanie: Hon, don't pressure me on that bet. Bets tend to get hectic when that happens, and that is technically a sabotage.
  +
*Radcliff: Sorry, I mean, that wasn't the intent, I-
  +
*Qolma: Both you lovers shut it, I'm trying to read and translate.... I'm trying to reaslate.... Or, transread? Uh, whatever, I'm doing them.
  +
*(Rav): In principle, I have turned into a competent marksman. Yet in practice how would I fare? When the time comes, could I end another sentient life? I am not so sure. My mouth grows dry with fear at the very thought. The warrior spirit of Plakmet's evil half surely resides somewhere within the recesses of my heart, but search as I may, I can not find it. As training I offered to put down some of our beasts that had grown deathly ill. It was a merciful act, but it still drew tears from my eyes and twisted my stomach into knots. I must learn to act in spite of these feelings. My life may depend on it one day.
  +
*Radcliff:... Wow.... I actually feel sorry for her now. And I feel like a dingus for criticizing.
  +
*Stephanie: "See what happens when you get to know someone different from you when you put aside the Keubric hot-blood?"
  +
*(Rav): Despite my best efforts, I know that I have strayed from the teachings and customs that I learned so meticulously back home. Out of necessity, I have adapted it to both the needs of Plakmet’s new followers and the circumstances we all face in this desert. For example, celebrating the gods with feasts and festivals in their name would be wasteful. This sacrifice is particularly unfortunate, for my students deserve some sort of reward for their diligence. Perhaps I can still organize a modest celebration of some sort. In fact, maybe the whole village should have one just to raise everyone’s spirits. Even our venerable Captain might enjoy that. Ah, but I ask for miracles.
  +
*Radcliff:... I think this Coopher guy would sound like the guy who'd hesitate on such parties.
  +
*Stephanie: Everyone's gotta have a break.
  +
*(Rav): I trust our Captain’s judgment on matters of defense, but I still feel ill at ease with his decision to rally against these M-Lucuses isn't going to leave the village unprotected. I bare no comfort of him bringing harm to creatures that are only of nature's design, yet, I couldn't bring myself to be contrarian to his argument that our home would not survive persistent visits by the creatures, espeically in a yet secured state. But I bare, a far more personal concern. I fear that his own contingent is too small. I know that I should not be concerned. He personally vouched for the caliber of his team, and I have more immediate priorities. Our walls and gates need repairs, our infirmary needs supplies and our morale needs bolstering. I have been scrambling to and fro with such constant urgency that rings have formed beneath my eyes. Yet when I finally earn a moments respite, I am restless with worry.
  +
*Radcliff:... I know love when I see or hear it. And this? Rav seems to grow fond of Coopher. She admits she worries for his safety... In a way that makes her care too much for him than just a friend.
  +
*Stephanie: Well, we can't know for sure yet.
  +
*(Rav): The people of Krater Cention come from so many different places, and they all have different ways of thinking. On occasion this incites conflict. Several weeks ago two newcomers came to blows over a long-standing feud between their home nations, and just the other day I had to harshly discipline one of my own disciples for harassing the villagers who worship some wooden symbol. One time a man even challenged me to a duel for Krater Cention’s leadership. I am not a boaster, but, I will admit the guilty pleasure of, having some enjoyment in teaching the challenger a strong lesson. I just hope sees his defeat as a sign that the gods had deemed leadership not his destiny. Yet those same two people who engaged in fisticuffs now work to repair our western gate, and it is stronger for their combined efforts. Perhaps that is why the gods have brought us all here. To help us understand each other.
  +
*Radcliff:... Seems confusing to see things philosophically in her eyes when we know what's around her.
  +
*Stephanie: Yeah.
  +
*(Rav): For days, I have prayed for both Plakmet's compassion and healing powers, and for days I have waited. I have faith that they heard me. When I first laid eyes on him, I thought for sure he was dead or dying, but the gods have not yet taken Johno Coopher away from me. My mind knows that I have other responsibilities to attend to, that I cannot afford to spend more time in this room. Yet I know that if I attempt to attend to my duties, my heart will interfere and I cannot neglect it. Not any longer.
  +
*Stephanie:... Okay, I don't know if I lose or not, but-
  +
*(Rav): Without question, it was Plakmet's divine will that sent me here, not only so I could spread her joy and compassion, but so I could understand her love. I thought I knew it before. I loved my family, I loved my fellow priestesses, and I love all those under my care here in Krater Cention. Yet only when I finally surrendered myself to it, when I let it rush over my body and carry me like the current of a great river did I truly understand it. Only now can I claim to embody Plakmet's teachings, thanks to Johno Coopher, this warrior from a distant time and place. And now, together, we can turn this desert into a paradise.
  +
*Stephanie: AAAAND that's a yes. (She gave Radcliff two bucks)
  +
*Qolma: (Chuckles) You two are starting to make me laugh.
  +
*(Rav): The mood in Krater Cention has been so jubilant lately that I think we may just hold a festival after all, and why not? We have plenty of cause to celebrate. With the M-Lucus diminished, (Though I still pity the creatures that had to die for our survival's sakes, I know those of personal wounds are, understandably less merciful for clear reasons, so, I'll be patient with the misguided hurrah of the death of creatures), our scouts were able to establish an outpost in the north, where they discovered a wealth of thick, black oil seeping through cracks in the ground. Thanks to this bounty, we have been able to create amazing new tools, and fill our storehouses to the brim. Granted, there were a select number of those that find discontent with certain resources cause of concerns of long-term effects on the environment. By all means their concerns had not fallen on deaf ears, but it was prudent that they are reminded that we are not in a luxurious state to worry about politics as if this is a civilized planet. I sensed their begrudgence, but, they complied.
  +
*Stephanie: "(Sighs), As much as my eco-care sensibilities really want me to hate her now, I understand that it was a tough call."
  +
*(Rav): A festival would hardly make a dent. I am sure my beloved Captain will disagree. Ever the dutiful worrier. Fortunately, I can be quite convincing where Johno Coopher is concerned, and for one day, we deserve to supplant worry and duty with song and dance.
  +
*Radcliff:... I have a feeling this won't be so 'jubilant' forever. Krater Cention isn't on the present-day maps.
  +
*(Rav): As I watched Giru's team construct the curious, bladed tower that is meant to harness the power of Shinda's winds, I could not help but marvel at how far we have come. In such a short time, Krater Cention has risen from nothing into a true city, with wonders that would make even the great Pharaohs envious. For all its storms and creatures, this desert grows less threatening to us each day, and fewer people are forced to suffer and die by its hand. Perhaps one day, no one will. If we can achieve that, then every hardship and every sacrifice we have endured will have been worth it.
  +
*Qolma:... And indeed, you're correct.... (Sighs in depression)... Krater Cention would meet an unexpected yet ironic end, according to these next few tablets.
  +
*(Rav): Over the last few days, the lights of the great obelisks have been pulsing with a rhythm and intensity that I have never seen before. It is a beautiful, soothing sight, particularly at night. It almost looks like they are singing a song to the stars above. Surely this is a sign of the gods' favor. Plakmet is offering us her blessing. Having another festival would be exorbitant, so I have organized a special round of ceremonies and prayers after dusk instead. Thus far they have gone wonderfully, and everyone has left with renewed faith and vigor. I wonder how long this display will last?
  +
*Radcliff:... I don't think that's the gods being happy.
  +
*(Rav): Sometimes, I wonder how Johno can carry on, with no faith in a higher purpose or power and eyes that see threats everywhere. Even when we are safe and secure, he insists on sleeping with a weapon at arms' length. It is no wonder that he suddenly believes the obelisks could be dangerous. Though yet, these great monuments have never done anything malicious, or at the least demonstrated any example-of-danger in the wrong hands. Fortunately I have enough faith for the both of us. I have faith that he will protect us from the flying lizards that have recently appeared, I have faith that the obelisks would never harm us, and I even have faith that I shall forgive his constant prodding on the latter. That final matter might require some additional effort on his part, however. He has been simply relentless about it.
  +
*Radcliff:... (Sighs) I don't know if I should be annoyed by this lack of skepticism from her, or pity her for her post-tragedy naiveté.
  +
*(Rav): What did I do wrong? Despite every trial and tribulation, I kept my faith in Plakmet, Arta-Ra and all the gods. No I did more than that. I gave them new followers, I built shrines for them, and held ceremonies for them. So why? Why did the obelisks light up the sky and call down such a terrible doom upon my new home? Why would the gods tear the very ground beneath us asunder and send all that I have built and cherished tumbling into the abyss? Where did I betray them? Were it not for Johno I would not even be able to ask such questions. I would just be some dead fool, whose last act would have been to beg for salvation from the very gods who have forsaken me.
  +
*Radcliff:... Yeah, I guess can I see why some folks think religiousness can be often detrimental in these UUniverses.
  +
*Stephanie: Look, Radcliff, I'm not fond of her being overly optimistic, but she had no way of knowing about the true nature of the obelisks.
  +
*Radcliff: But why would they even do this to Krater Cention?
  +
*Qolma: How should I know? They're still a mystery to us.
  +
*(Rav): My mind is filled with the dead. I see the smiling faces of my students, eager to learn. I hear Giru's laugh, deep and merry. I see the outstretched hand of Johno's trusted lieutenant as she fell into the darkness below. Johno tells me not to blame myself, that what happened was unpredictable. Yet how can I not feel guilty when I led so many to worship the instruments of our destruction, all the while promising to keep them safe? By all means, I don't deem the towering objects themselves as malevolent, nor the direct object of the gods nor speakers of their true will. But, it may be possible they are under the control of someone, or something, less kind. At the same time, am I even sure of that? Either way, even if I would have to ensure the destruction of these otherwise still beautiful obelisks, I'll seek to end any misuse of them again. Somehow, I must bury these emotions and focus on the present, as Johno does. If I cannot tear my mind away from what I have lost, I will lose all I have left. I cannot let that happen. I cannot let the gods take him too, assuming if this is even their actual doing.
  +
*Stephanie:... Okay, I'm starting to feel her emotion.
  +
*Radcliff:... Me too... But, only a little bit.
  +
*Qolma:... I'm afraid it gets worse from there.
  +
*(Rav): I understand now that it was not the act of the gods that took my home. Not even of the malevolent or cruel-humored ones. And that the obelisks were tainted by less than benevolent forces. It was the very flying lizards who did this. They claimed to have served some kind of machine that claimed my city was violating some kind of 'Adytum Project' design. By all means, I can understand if this was supposed to be for a greater purpose of rebuilding the wasted world outside the crater, BUT DID IT NOT KNOW OF WHAT MY PEOPLE DID AND WHAT THEY HAD TO ENDURE?! DID IT HAVE SOME MECHANICAL FACSIMILE OF A HEART?!? Or dare I say.... It did know, BUT IT WASN'T TO IT'S SATISFACTION!! I never trusted artificially-intelligent machines because they were not truly sentient. Much as I don't want to shame those flying lizards of only being victims of corruption, I, I embraced that there was no saving them from sin! They are doomed to be the playthings of the underworld, and.... Darkly, I made peace with it. ESPEICALLY WITH WHAT THEY HAD DO-...... You would have been proud of me. I controlled my breathing, just like you taught me, even with the tears streaming down my face. Even with all the hate and anger in my heart, I kept my aim steady, and I killed them. I killed every single one of those flying lizards that took you from me, Johno. So why have you abandoned me, too? You were the survivor, not I. These creatures should not have been enough to kill you. You were too strong. I need you too much. Please. Come back to me. I need to hear your voice. I need to see your smile. Please. Please.
  +
*Radcliff: ".... Awwww, shit, is, is that insinuating-....."
  +
*Stephanie:... (She softly sobbed)
  +
*Radcliff:..... Sweet freaking Arbasus!... Johno was killed?
  +
*Qolma:... Looks like it. Poor man died as he lived.... Though something feels off. Rav DID make a good point: He seemed too skilled to be killed by Dracthysaurs.
  +
*Radcliff:... You're right. My gut's telling me over and over like a broken record, that somehow, he's still alive.
  +
*Qolma:... Oh gosh!... I think, Rav lost her marbles in this.
  +
*(Rav): When I found them, I wanted to smash them to bits. Those eggs were the spawn of the monsters of the lizards that served the heartless SOULLESS machine that slew my beloved, and they did not deserve my pity. Yet I also knew they could help me. If I could raise these creatures as my own servants, then even the gods that just, failed me, could not strike me down. I no longer blame them for the actions of others.... But they also did NOTHING to halt this sin?! It may as well be like this was THEIR doing! I have constructed a great bonfire to mimic the warmth provided by their mother, and gathered milk from the mightiest of the fallen beasts so that I may feed them when they hatch. Hopefully it is enough. No, it will be. I will raise these creatures, I will master them and I will survive. I promise you, Johno. I will live for both of us.
  +
*Radcliff:... Amazing. Looks like there's some ounce of that animal-caring nature left in her after that hatred of Johno's... Apparent, death... Drove it all out of her.
  +
*Stephanie:... Perhaps she IS like Plakmet.
  +
*Qolma: Having conquering emotions is just nature. Even she's not immune to what they cause. But she has indeed found a conscience. These eggs she found belonged to the Dracthysaurs she killed.... She has a big heart.
  +
*(Rav): When the creatures first hatched, I dared not go near them without weapon in hand, but by now we have grown accustomed to each other. I once heard that a newborn creature may identify the first living thing it sees as its parent. I believe that has occurred here. I have become a mother to monsters. So be it. The gods have forsaken me and my love has been taken from me that they did not bother protecting me from a madman's design, so gone now is the Rav of old. Gone are the last vestiges of Plakmet's joy and tranquility. Let my heart fill with Plakmet's dark might and fury, and with monsters at my back and steel in my hands, let the desert know my wrath. Never shall anyone take from me again, be it god, beast or man.
  +
*Radcliff:... Badass!
  +
*Stephanie: "Buuuuuut also concerning."
  +
*Qolma:... Last tablet.
  +
*(Rav): I have seen so much since we last spoke, John. There are secrets in this desert that you would never believe, dangers that would have paralyzed me with fear when we first met, but I am a different woman now. Would you recognize me still, behind this black veil? I still find ways to help people, though not as I used to. I am no shepherd to the lost, no healer of wounded souls. Sometimes I simply defend the defenseless, or guide those few who seek the truth behind this cursed place. Perhaps one day, someone will find that truth, strike down the neglectent gods of this land, even the madman if they must, and at last grant me rest. Yet until that day comes, know that I will not falter. Know that I will carry on.
  +
*Stephanie:... (She started to cry again)
  +
*Radcliff:..... If Vet was here, I bet this story would sell like HOTCAKES?!
  +
*Qolma and Stephanie just stared at Radcliff like "Seriously"?
  +
*Radcliff: "...... Aw don't act like she wouldn't BE like that!"
  +
  +
===='''Who Is Johno?'''====
  +
===='''Who Is Dinia?'''====
  +
===='''Who Is Santrago?'''====
 
==Transcript==
 
==Transcript==
[[File:Ark - Extinction Theme OST|thumb|right|250 px|Intro Theme]]Coming soon...
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[[File:ARK Extinction Song Coming Home by NerdOut|thumb|right|250 px|Intro Song]]'''Intro Theme (NerdOut- Coming Home)''' Coming soon...
   
 
==Material==
 
==Material==
 
==='''Songs/Music/Videos'''===
 
==='''Songs/Music/Videos'''===
[[File:ARK Survival Evolved - Soundtrack - Death Theme|thumb|left|250 px]]
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[[File:Ark - Extinction Theme OST|thumb|left|250 px|Intro Theme]]
[[File:Ark Menu Theme|thumb|right|250 px]]
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[[File:Ark Menu Theme|thumb|right|250 px|Climax Theme]]
[[File:ARK - Scorched Earth Theme|thumb|left|250 px]]
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[[File:ARK - Scorched Earth Theme|thumb|left|250 px|Scorchar Desert Theme]]
[[File:ARK - Aberration Theme|thumb|right|250 px|Dr. Sayus' Hideout in Lapse Wastes]]
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[[File:ARK - Aberration Theme|thumb|right|250 px|Lapse Wastes Theme]]
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[[File:ARK Genesis Final Boss OST Extened|thumb|left|250 px|EP Stonewell AI Fight Theme]]
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[[File:ARK - Boss Battle Theme - Rockwell|thumb|right|250 px|Stonewell's Freedom Theme]]
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[[File:ARK - Boss Battle Theme - King Titan (unused stinger)|thumb|left|250 px|Stonewell Final Battle Theme]]
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[[File:ARK Extinction Final Cutscene|thumb|right|250 px|Scyria Resurrected]]
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[[File:ARK Survival Evolved - Soundtrack - Death Theme|thumb|left|250 px|Tension Music]]
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[[File:ARK - Loading Screen|thumb|right|250 px|Travel Theme]]
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[[File:ARK - Credit Theme (The Island)|thumb|left|250 px|Final Victory Theme]][[File:ARK - Battle Theme - Bioluminiscens Region|thumb|right|250 px|Lapse Wastes Tension Theme]]
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[[File:ARK - Battle Theme - Element Region|thumb|left|250 px|Lapse Wastes Enhancelement Pools Theme]]
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[[File:ARK Genesis Mission Horde Gauntlet OST Extened|thumb|right|250 px|EP Simulation Tension Theme]]
 
[[Category:Scroopfan3212311]]
 
[[Category:Scroopfan3212311]]
 
[[Category:Chronicles Movisodes]]
 
[[Category:Chronicles Movisodes]]

Latest revision as of 17:41, July 6, 2020

The Heroes Act end up missing on Planet Scyria, which Icky immediately calls AUU Ark: Survival Evolved only without flying ARKs surrounding a post-apocalyptic planet, and the Lodgers have to find them. Though they've each been scattered, and each have been surviving their own way. They've tamed the native prehistoric wildlife, and they're trying to find each other again. But even the Lodgers get separated with each of them because of Ark Titan-like beasts called the Titoses. Thus they have to find each other again and escape this planet. Along the way, they learn about the reason why the HA were even in this planet to begin with: They were after the Tiikon mad scientist known as Dr. Sayus Mayus Dayus, a bioweapons expert that intents on unleashing a lost Teadr 1 super race referred to as the Scyrians, a biologically-perfected raptor super-race that given themselves the traits of other dinosaurs and prehistoric reptiles to become marvels of perfection. But the Scyrians locked themselves away because these changes made them succumb to mutation madness that messed with their minds, as too many genetic features regress intelligence and basically scaled them back to mindless creatures. Sayus is thus endangering the planet, which is vulnerable to conquest because the only places of civilization are found in flying high-tech obelisks and the Beaconbeam Tower, both of Tiikon engineering, to protect from the inhospitable outer wastelands, and potentially the UUniverses by releasing a race cursed by their own genetic hubris as he believes it would help him seek revenge against the Skorner race for what they did to him. They eventually reunite in Ar Cretacion, the former capital of Scyria, and meet a Tiikon scientific adventurer named Heili Runner, and help her rescue her friends, a Sauran female Zoian warrior with armies of tamed wildlife named Meya Liu, an expert hacker Xuron-Aectoid hybrid turned synthetic biomechanical android named Santrago An Sanct, and his Skorner scientific combat agent wife Dinia Altories, from a survival simulation in the tech-city of Ererit Prime infected by enhancelement, an adaptive half-metal and half-genetics material created by Scyrians to help their technological and transsentience evolution, and the infection itself has a sentience of it's own that has been able to download and imprison everyone inside with some kind of malicious AI program. After rescuing them, they say that they all aim to re-terraform Scyria after a long accidental adventure got the four together. They too planned to stop Dr. Sayus as he actually ended up forming his base of operations on what used to be that of their own during their stay in the radioactive Lapse Wastes, where they defeated their traitorous Chredder chemist ex-colleague Edwyn Stonewell, who is now a tentacled mutated monster imprisoned in an underground sarcophagus. They intended to stop him fearing Stonewell would be set free before learning of his true goals, as he actually made a deal with Stonewell that, in return for helping him awaken the Scyrians and their unimaginable secrets, he'd be set free and given everything he ever wanted including his revenge, but they all ended up imprisoned inside the EP simulation with the exception of the escaping Heili. With a threat on the horizon, and Heili being too valuable to go with them, instead giving them a flying comical AI of her named HL-1, the heroes are in for a dino-mite of a challenge.

ARK Extinction - Expansion Pack Official Launch Trailer

ARK Extinction - Expansion Pack Official Launch Trailer

ScenesEdit

Who Is Heili Runner?Edit

Scyrian Island

  • Xandy:... Interesting. Hud, you need to see this.
  • Hudson: What is it, hon?
  • Xandy:... Okay, there's no one around to hear you call me that, so, whatever. I, found this journal. It depicts... A LOT of stuff. Something about a woman named... Heili Runner.
  • Hudson:... Huh. Oddly enough, that's the name of the lady people are gaga for here."
  • Xandy:... Well... What do you think she's been up to?
  • Hudson: Well, maybe the journal has some ideas.
  • Xandy:... Oy, you really are so simplistic and direct Hudson, and I like you for it. (She did so)
  • (Heili): I've lost count how many sunrises I've seen since I arrived on this island. Hundreds, I'd imagine. Yet, each one seems more beautiful than the last. Sometimes I like to take Athea out just before dawn and watch it while flying through the morning sky. It's in these simple moments that I realize just how lucky I am. Not that I was unhappy exploring the reefs and rainforests back on Tik, but I wasn't going to spot a UIS-territorial sauropod stomping about my homeland, now was I? Since I came here to continue the research of my Ma, the great Johnna Runner, I've had the opportunity to study the living and the greatness of tech not like any other Teadr 1 race. The Scyrians left behind such fascinating secrets. I'll always be grateful for that.
  • Xandy:... She really DOES seem lucky.
  • Hudson: Huh. Didn't think Heli was a Tiken.
  • Xandy: Well, what did you THINK she was?
  • Hudson: Maybe a sentient version of a native dino? I dunno, you tell me!
  • Xandy: (She giggles) Oh, Hud. (She continued reading)
  • (Heili): I've been holding out for a change in weather before studying the wildlife of this island's peculiar tundra region, given my natural cold-bloodedness, but I think it's safe to say that it's not forthcoming. Clearly this planet has no axial tilt, given the condition of the environment outside this island, and therefore, it has no seasons. That ice and snow isn't melting anytime soon. Can't say I'm happy about it. The cold and I are not the best of mates. Reminder in cause a MORON is reading this, I'm a Tiiken, which are reptiles, and reptiles don't take kindly to coldness. I can tell you that, but I just have to suck it up. An environment for dinosaurs like these are fairly uniform, so an arctic climate is quite the oddity.
  • Xandy:... Well, if THAT doesn't indicate she's a Tiikon, I don't know what does. Tiikons are smart critters.
  • Hudson: She came off abit aggressive with the "Moron" comment, though.
  • Xandy: Goes to show how much the cold sucks for reps! (She giggles again and continues reading)
  • (Heili): The tribe that calls itself the Howling Rolves have made this expedition in the north a lot easier. Well, them and Athea. She's right at home here. She may be a pterosaur, but she's a pteroavian, so she's more bird than reptile. I don't think I'll ever repay Stonewell for just up and giving me a Pteriornis. He's said our conversations are payment enough, but I still feel guilty. I should remember to collect some floral samples while I'm here. Anyway, tagging along with the Rolves has been a good introduction to the region, but I think I'm ready to make my own way. To make real scientific conclusions, I need to observe these animals undisturbed in their natural habitat for long periods of time.
  • Hudson:... Yes, definitely a Tiikon. If there was even some minor doubt, that killed it faster then a fat kid on cake. (Xandy giggles)... Okay, Xans, your giggles are getting contagious now, are ya catching a laugh virus?
  • Xandy: Oh, stop it, cutie! (She continued reading)... Wow, she sounds excited on this page.
  • (Heili): What a day! There I am, putting the finishing touches on the Mammothericus Dossier, when all of a sudden, a Tyrannus starts attacking the herd. Strewth! A Tyrannus wading through the bloody snow! I asked The Howling Rolves at the nearest camp, and apparently, this is a common thing. They’re not new to the region. It just doesn’t make sense. How can a Tyrannus, a REPTILE, survive in this climate? And how can the introduction of an apex predator not shift the entire ecosystem?!
  • Hudson:... I take it she didn't get the memo on this world yet.
  • Xandy: I'm sure she'll figure that out, let's just keep reading.
  • (Heili): Well, I've combed through more carnivore droppings than I care to calculate, and I can't say they provided many answers. All the predators in this region have very similar diets. With so many different predators hunting the same prey, the populations of all these species shouldn't be sustainable. Yet I've found nothing to indicate that any population shift is actually happening. It's just bizarre! The longer I'm here, the more I realize that this region shouldn't exist. Its climate is out of sync with the rest of the island, and the planet in general, many of the creatures here are equally dominant and therefore deadlocked or threatened, and the ecosystem is almost static! Something's off. I need to review my notes.
  • Xandy:... Well, let's hope she realizes it.
  • (Heili):... Heili, you're a dipstick. Going through my notes, I've realized that there are more predators than prey across this entire island by almost double. That's the OPPOSITE of how ANY ecosystem is supposed to work. It's like this world was meant to be a dino-fantasy video game and all the iconic carnivores are present in mass! I can't believe it took a Tyrannus frolicking through the snow for me to see this. It's plain as day. What to make of it? Add in the sentient being factor, and it's impossible for this island to continue as it is by natural means. So, what, is this island's wildlife being monitored and curated somehow? Possibly from the Scyrians, or their technology, in some way? I should speak with Stonewell. Maybe he's come to a similar conclusion.
  • Xandy:... Well, at least she's catching on. Watching people as smart as this woman discover things is... Kinda engaging.
  • Hudson: I'm just glad she doesn't do too much sciencey talk. (They continue reading)
  • (Heili): I never thought this island was normal, exactly. I mean, there are three giant obelisks not of Tiikon origin floating in the sky, for Petan's sake. Not to mention that cave I found in the central volcano, which hid a platform similar to those found at the base of said obelisks. Well, similar except for those oddly shaped holes that were carved into its podium. I guess I just didn't care about all that. So long as I had my beautiful, unique and untainted ecosystem to study, I was happy. But now... No, I shouldn't write it off just yet. Not before I arrive at Stonewell's. There's still a chance that my data is off or, that I missed something obvious. I won't give up on my paradise just yet.
  • Xandy:... "Her paradise" she said.
  • (Heili): I really need to visit Stonewell more. It's so energizing to be around someone of his experience that still has so much excitement for his work, and talking to him always helps me gain perspective. As for the island's ecological abnormalities, Stonewell reassured me that I was jumping to conclusions. He made a great point: Just because this place doesn't follow the scientific or natural laws, let alone even the most basic sense of the natural world we're used to, doesn't mean it follows no scientific laws at all. After all, science is about discovery, and new discoveries can invalidate old principles, or reinvent them, whatever works with you. So before I latch onto my theory, I need to gather more empirical evidence. Otherwise, I'm no scientist.
  • Xandy:... Well, at least she's got someone who's optimistic in her circle.
  • (Heili): On Stonewell's recommendation, I've headed south to start an in-depth study of the island's marine life with the help of a tribe called the Dyesharks. Because the ecosystem of the ocean that surrounds the island is separate from the ecosystem on the mainland, correlating patterns between them might help me isolate and understand this island's scientific abnormalities. Also, after freezing my ass off for so long, I could really use an extended stay on a tropical island. Marine biology wasn't my uh, Magnum Opus of study, but I do love the ocean. A lot of people do these days. And why not? If nothing else, it should be beautiful there, as many oceans are.
  • Xandy: Puh-REECH!
  • Hudson:.... This seems to affect my inner Aquastar.
  • Xandy: Oh, Hud.
  • (Heili): The Dyesharks have treated me like I'm the bloody queen since I showed them Stonewell's letter of recommendation. I don't think I've eaten better in my entire time on the island. Not that it's a high bar, I'm a horrible cook. Oh, and they've been of tremendous help with my research, of course. So far, my estimates of the predator-prey balance are consistent with the ecosystems on the mainland. The water is simply teeming with shoals of Junjadons, and they are extremely aggressive. Perhaps that's a side effect of having limited prey? Sharks aren't known as territorial creatures. I'll have to study them further.
  • Hudson:... Heck's a Junjadon?
  • Xandy: Oh, I learned about them as Xasandra. They're an offset evolutionary cousin of the Junja Shark, and they're MUCH bigger, have armored spiked backs, and are night-black.
  • Hudson:....  And this woman, was crazy enough to study them?
  • Xandy: Apparently. When you're a scientist, you take risks.
  • Hudson: "It's amazing alot of them are even alive."
  • (Heili): Still no answers as to why the Junjadons are so territorial, but I was privy to something even more extraordinary: Junjadon Mating Behavior! No one's ever witnessed Junjas rooting around back home, so that alone is monumental, but I got something even better. I know, what could possibly top watching Junjadons having a naughty, right? Tracking the female! I was able to observe her for almost the full gestation period, and get this, it only lasts one week. One, week! No wonder the population is so high. These are spitting out pups 44x the rate of the average Junja. I should compare how they behave in captivity.
  • Xandy:... Captivity?... Those things, can be TAMED?!
  • Hudson: Apparently. I guess ANYTHING can be tamed on this planet.
  • (Heili): So, in addition to all of the oddities I found with wild Junjadons, here's the real sherry on top: Taming them is a piece of piss. A bit of training and they're more obedient than the family rog. Now, I've heard of sharks getting very rudimentary training over a year or so, but not to this extent. Certainly not so easily. Sharks aren't mammals or even avians, they're fish. They rely more on instinct, I.E., they're not very smart. You shouldn't be able to ride one like a jet ski. I'm trying to keep an open mind like Stonewell suggested, but, I'm kinda back to square one where I question the realism of this planet.
  • Xandy:... Well, true. When you become self-aware of your own paradise... It gets ruined. Though it's not exactly hard to see oddities like this.
  • Hudson: Soooo, she still has no idea that this is a controlled environment? Ugh, you would think that Tikens would be smarter than that!
  • Xandy: I'm SURE we're getting to that. Just be patient, kay?
  • (Heili): Well, this seals it. Just when I thought I'd made some sense of the notes I took while visiting the Dyesharks, I spotted the nail in the proverbial coffin: Roos. A whole herd of giant Roos were just hopping about the countryside like they'd always been there. As much as I love Roos, they just shouldn't be here, period. They evolved away from dinosaurs. Large mammals and dinosaurs can't so easily share the same environment without some degree of environmental damage, and/or causing natural chaos. If I know any genus, it's this one, and Coptopodus should not exist here. This island isn't an ecosystem, its a zoo, or better yet, it may as well actually be the previously claimed Dinosaur Fantasy Video Game.
  • Xandy:... Cute.
  • Hudson: Well took her long enough to get the picture.
  • (Heili): Not too long ago, I thought this place was a far-off utopia where I could study a lot of UIS wonders AND the secrets of yet another lost Teadr 1 race unlike many I've seen. Now that I'm certain it's not natural at all, I have to say, it's lost a lot of luster, that's to say, this world feels like a parody of what uneducated folks THINK prehistoric times were like. This shouldn't be a real world. But, would that mean that, It's Teadr 1 race was a lie too? Not helping that they disappeared mysteriously and even the Wondos can only guess what happened, so some part of me feels as if the Wondos do know what happened, but are motivated to play dumb on it as if to protect some secret. Interference from sentientkind hasn't helped. Most tribes have learned to live in harmony with their slice of the island, but some aren't content with that. One is even trying to conquer all the others, and natural or not, this ecosystem won't be any better off if it's burned down in some great war. In some way, I know it involves the technology my Mother studied. The sunrises are still beautiful, though. At least nothing can change that, not even the implication of a planet being faked, or at the least radically altered from its normal ways.
  • Xandy:... They really are, sister. They, really, are.
  • Hudson: Glad you're together with someone who can fly huh?
  • Xandy: (Chuckles) Yeah.
  • (Heili): Of all the abnormalities that I've observed, the tamed Junjadons stick out to me. It was almost like they were stray rogs who were resocialized, as though they had a genetic history of sentient obedience. Obviously, it's the Scyrians, but I can't know for certain yet. Most of my observations have been in the wild, but I think I may learn a thing or two if I observe domesticated creatures more closely. I need to study their diets, their mating patterns, how they socialize with other species, all this and that and what have you. Rumor has it that there's some woman that's tamed a whole mess of them all by herself, so many that they call her The Animal Queen. Maybe she'll have some useful insights.
  • Xandy:... I don't feel confident with that. That sounds like a feral being. And that ain't pretty.
  • Hudson: Nope... But let's keep reading just to be sure. Maybe this 'Animal Queen' is a different kind of feral person.
  • (Heili): I suppose it was a bit naive of me to think that someone with the moniker of "Animal Queen" would roll out the red carpet. Should've figured that being the "Animal Queen", requires to being QUITE the piece of work! I guess I got used to all the friendly treatment that being an associate of Stonewell's earned me. She did let me stay at least, and she hasn't instructed her dinosaurs to kill me yet, so that's a positive. Not that she'd really need the dinosaurs. If that glare of her's gets any more intense, I'll probably just burst into flames on the spot. Strewth, I hope she eases up. Sifting through raptor excrement with someone watching is harder than you might think.
  • Xandy:... Well she's got the scary look of an unsentient animal, for sure.
  • Hudson: Yeah, this queen's glare would certainly do something random like that... In a figurative sense.
  • (Heili): There's nothing special about the diet of these tamed creatures when compared to their wild counterparts. Part of that is the Animal Queen's doing, as she takes them on regular hunting excursions for training purposes. Curiously, they never have to range too far. There is an abundance of prey nearby, despite the size of her pack. That this has held true regardless of her domesticated creature's remarkable birth and growth rates makes it even more unusual. Oh, and I did finally get her name: Meya Liu. She's gotten a little less glarey, too. In hindsight, maybe starting by studying her animals' feces just gave her the wrong impression.
  • Hudson:... Yeah, I mean, why was she even do that?
  • Xandy:... I'm amazed you didn't know that, hon. That's how biologists study an animal's diet.
  • Hudson:... Still gross.
  • Xandy: Science ain't always sanitary, Huddy.
  • (Heili): The most interesting thing that I've observed about Meya's animals has been what they don't do: they never fight. Among creatures that have been domesticated for generations like feloots or rogs, that's normal, but there's a reason zoos keep their animals in separate enclosures. Certain instincts are hard to curb, and there should definitely be more disputes among such a diverse group. Meya has even integrated a herd of herbivores into her army, as their thick hides have proven resistant to fire and explosives. Yet despite being surrounded by carnivores, they remain untouched. It doesn't make sense. That's not to take anything away from Meya. She works hard to treat and train her animals well. She's not bad company either, at least when she's not mute and I don't go full biologist. Sometimes it's felt like speaking a new language, but it's been kind of refreshing.
  • Hudson:... I don't know how to feel about this 'Meya' person.
  • Xandy: Me neither. But Heili looks like she's got her charm, so that should change soon.
  • (Heili): After going over my notes from Meya's camp, I've concluded that the animals on this island are not only used to sentient beings, but used to captivity. Even with their accelerated growth rates, their behavior indicates that they have been regularly domesticated for decades at least. Otherwise, they'd never obey the whims of sentientkind so easily. With that in mind, I believe that my theory about this island being curated is back in play, again. In fact, it's possible that not only are animal populations being controlled, but that the animals themselves are genetically modified. However, before I bring this to Stonewell, there's one more rumor that I want to confirm.
  • Xandy:... Hmm...
  • (Heili):... This is the smoking gun. It has to be. I simply can't be convinced that this place is natural after finding an island populated entirely by carnivores. Even if they fed off of each other, which is awfully dubious given that carnivore meat is much more likely to carry harmful parasites than herbivore meat, the landmass is so small and their population is so dense that they could never maintain it. Yet there it is, hidden away off the northeast coast of the island. Someone could have to put them there on purpose. There's no way that Stonewell can deny my theory now.
  • Hudson:... Seriously?
  • Xandy: Actually, yeah, now that she brings it up, I HAVE seen that island before I met up with you. I saw a Tyrannus fighting it out with a group of Scoepons AND a pack of raptors.
  • Hudson:... Wow. I'm surprised Heili was the ONLY one to realize that. The people on this island must've been dumb as bricks.
  • Xandy: Or maybe just blissfully ignorant.
  • (Heili): As I expected, Stonewell couldn't deny my theory, but I can't say that I have his endorsement either. He didn't seem terribly engrossed in the subject, frankly. Something else seems to have captured his attention as of late: the island's obelisks. Apparently, Stonewell stumbled upon a way to interact with the towering monuments while spelunking, of all things. I guess he felt the need to scratch that old intrepid explorer itch of his. It's pretty impressive, considering his age, as he knew my Ma. Now that I think about it, the obelisks could be linked to my own findings about Scyrian technological involvement on this island. Their nature has always been a mystery, and Stonewell made some intriguing observations. I should follow up.
  • Hudson:... Something tells me their story has just begun.
  • Xandy: No kidding.
  • (Heili): Though I've been received by the Steel Brotherhood, they didn't seem very pleased to see me, especially when I mentioned Stonewell. That's a first. Add that to the rather deserted, gloomy state of their compound, and I'm starting to feel a bit apprehensive. Their leader can't return from his hunting expedition soon enough. All I've confirmed so far is that yes, they gathered all of the artifacts Stonewell sought and yes, the artifacts were able to activate one of the obelisks. You'd think they'd be celebrating such a monumental discovery, but it's just killjoys as far as the eye can see. Go figure.
  • Hudson/Xandy: Well it IS a primitive tribe. JINX! DOUBLE JINX! (They both laughed)
  • (Heili): I keep glancing at the artifact. I understand why the Steel Brotherhood's leader didn't want it. Since it has no apparent use, all it does is remind him of the tribesman who died seizing it from that giant multi-fanged spider. Can it really be useless, though? They described the artifacts that activated the obelisk as looking similar to it, so I headed to the nearest obelisk to see if I could get a response. No luck. Maybe it activates something else? Of course! The platform in the volcanic cave! It's a long shot, but it's the only thing I can think of that's similar to the obelisks. Definitely worth a try.
  • Xandy:... Yeah, she's starting to solve a puzzle here.
  • Hudson: Let's see if it worked.
  • (Heili):... Unbelievable! The artifacts perfectly fits one of the slots in the platform's pedestal. How did I not notice that right away? I really am a dipstick. So if this key, such as it is, was acquired by activating one of the obelisks, then it follows that the other two keys can be obtained by activating the other two obelisks. Then, with all three keys, maybe this platform will lead to whatever is controlling the island's ecosystem. If the other obelisks work the way that the first one did, that means I have to find a whole mess of artifacts first, and I don't think I can do that alone.
  • Hudson:... Meya?
  • Xandy: Meya.
  • (Heili): Well, the Howling Rolves are quickly tracking down the artifacts, but after hearing about what happened to the Steel Brotherhood, that's as far as they'll go. It's understandable, but it leaves me in a tight spot. If a giant spider and I get in a scrap, the spider's winning for sure. Even with Athea on my side, I prefer to avoid danger, not confront it. My aim's piss poor and I've got fists like soft pillows. If I want a fair go at actually surviving whatever happens when the obelisk activates, I'll need backup. Negotiation Notes: Don't mention feces. Don't look directly at the glare. Bring chili (UNBURNED).
  • Xandy: Definitely Meya.
  • Hudson: Yep, Meya.
  • (Heili): Now, I know you don't get a nickname like "Animal Queen" without being one tough lady, but when I saw that giant ape, Giopithecus to be more specific, and a rare endangered species at that, I still thought we were buggered. Fortunately, Meya's got more intestinal fortitude than yours truly, and somehow, someway she was able to pull out a win. Glad I'm on her good side. I already found the second key, but I want to take a look around here before we head back through the portal. This ape either lived here, or was released when we activated the obelisk. Finding out how it survived in this isolated environment or how it got here could prove useful.
  • Hudson:... Wow. I guess they look like they might win this quick.
  • Xandy:... Ummm... I think you spoke too soon, honey. Listen to this.
  • (Heili): So, these are the conquerors that I heard about way back when. Not a great first impression. Meya and I weren't quite mates, but watching her creatures get slaughtered like that certainly wasn't pleasant. I'm not a fan of the prisoner lifestyle, either. The leader introduced himself as Nervay Gai Artegerant, and he's not a complete bogan, I'll give him that. He let me keep my personal effects and our conversations have been civil so far. I get the feeling that'll change if I don't cooperate, though. Not that I have much choice. They already took the keys. The only way I'm seeing this through is as a "guest" of the Artegerant Legion.
  • Hudson:... Wow.... That went downhill fast.
  • Xandy: A slaughter?! Damn.
  • (Heili): This Nervay bloke's FIGJAM incarnate. Seems that his entire family wants to leave the island and reclaim the world or some rubbish like that. I think his ego was actually tangible when the Legion returned from to the obelisk with the third key and the head of a Dracthysaur in tow. Sadly, as much as I would enjoy seeing him fall flat on his face, I need him and I need the Artegerant Legion. So, when he "asked" me to guide his forces to the hidden cave, I obliged without protest. What he'll do with me afterwards, I don't know.
  • Hudson:... I'm genuinely scared right now.
  • Xandy:... Me too.
  • (Heili): When Nervay and his band return from the cave, they'll decide my fate, so this may be my final chance to reflect. I may as well take advantage of it. I realize that had I just ignored the signs and accepted this paradise at face value for easier research on the Scyrians and the wildlife for Ma, I'd still be happy and free and be spared her fate. Would that have been better? I don't think so. After a lot of thought, I've decided that I'd rather die seeking the truth than living in an illusion or living in the past. That, as Stonewell would say, is the path of a true scientist. Not that I'm some historical scientist battling the church or anything, but hey, it's something to hold onto.
  • Hudson:... So... She's dead?
  • Xandy:... Not quite. Look at this.
  • (Heili): Well, I'm not dead, and as it turns out, neither was Meya. In fact, it was her who freed me, and insisted we follow Nervay through the portal in the cave. A horrifying scene awaited us. All of Nervay's men lay dead amongst the shards of a mysterious metal, but Nervay's body was missing. Forgetting my present company, I suggested a peaceful approach if we encountered him. That earned me one hell of a knockout punch. After all, Meya's animals were all dead, and the one she cared for the most, a raptor named Suave, died saving her life. A sacrifice like that would have her understandably seeking revenge. But I at least tried to have a compromise. When I came to, I searched the whole station, but the only signs of Meya and Nervay were a few ounces of dried blood. No bodies, and no victor. Then suddenly, there, floating outside the window and surrounded by machinery, was not just the very island that I had been living on, but the land and ocean around it. I never thought the rest of the planet as a whole was a wasteland. I never had the chance to see it when I arrived. Teleportation and all that. But the station I was on? It was orbiting high above the planet close to the Karman line. This station was doing some crazy work on the obelisks on the island. And everything was revealed. The ecosystem on the island wasn't just curated, it was completely artificial from the ground up. In fact, it wasn't just a controlled and contained environment just like I knew it was... It was some kind of prison. What in the hell is all this? Why would the Scyrians construct it? And how could they have possibly kept it hidden from the world? I don't have the answers to any of these questions or the dozens of others that keep popping into my head, but somehow, I mean to find out. Somehow, I'll find the truth.
  • Xandy:... So, I guess she's starting to reveal everything needed to know about the Scyrians.
  • Hudson:... Yeah.
  • Xandy:... So it ends here... But she says here that she has another journal. One that she made because she suspected that it would be her last entry for now.... Clever forethought.
  • Hudson: Yeah, kinda comes from a race known for extra personas.
  • Xandy: Definitely.

Scorchar Desert

  • Xandy:... It can't be!
  • Hudson: What? What?
  • Xandy: This is the second journal of Heili!
  • Hudson:... Wow, isn't that a coincidence?
  • Xandy: And we didn't even have to do some proper journeying.
  • Hudson: Nope.
  • Xandy: Let's see what happened after she found that floating tower.
  • (Heili): I'm alive. Why the hell am I alive and how? Well, I suppose it is a rather strange question to ask. But I just learned how my mother died. She was killed by that station's Overwatcher AI or something because 'she was learning too much' or some hogwash like that. I’m still not entirely certain just how I got that console working before he came, but it suddenly started cycling through holographic images of different destinations far from the island that I’d been studying on. Of course, I couldn't think before pressing another button while it was showing off one that contained miles and miles of bloody desert, and here I am. Seems that the station teleported directly above the desert, which is actually inside a giant crater, and I had to jump from this massive altitude to avoid getting killed. That’s just typical of me, isn’t it? Always leaping, never looking. It's a bloody miracle I survived that fall somehow. Oh well, better make the best of it, and by that, I mean "better not die of heat exhaustion". Not that it was a possibility. Reptiles THRIVE in heat.
  • Xandy: (Giggles)
  • Hudson: Still sick of that laughing virus?
  • Xandy: Oh, come on, Hud, you like my laugh, don't you?
  • Hudson: Yeah, but we're on an important mission to stop Dr. SMD.
  • Xandy: I know, but... Maybe these people we've been reading about might have some clues to how we start.
  • (Heili): Okay, reptiles can't thrive in THIS kind of heat. It's burning hot out here. Too much for me. Worse, my hunting skills are seriously out of practice. Not that I was ever spectacular, but I feel like I’d graduated from smashing bugs with a rock at some point. At least I was thoroughly rewarded for my efforts. My hunch was spot on these big green bastards are carrying drinkable water on their backs, and thank goodness for that! I may have never known if I’d killed a red one first, since those carry oil instead. Far less useful when you’re dying of thirst, let me tell you. I may be fighting the inevitable, though. I’m still on foot and still alone. Definitely miss Athea.
  • Xandy:... Well, glad that Isabellene got her and... She became a mother with Achitans.
  • Hudson: THERE'S a happy ending for you.
  • (Heili): I’m on a roll. By sheer coincidence, I stumbled into another group of survivors today, and they didn’t try to kill me or anything. If I didn’t know how probability actually worked, I’d say that this recent string of good luck is the universe making up for sending me to the bloody desert in the first place. The caravaners were welcoming, and the creatures they ride are fascinating. They seem like dinosaurs, but they also appear to share some biology with camels. Bizarre! For all its oddities, the island never had anything like that. I’ll have to study them... After a nap. All this desert survival’s left me knackered.
  • Xandy:... Oh, she means these Limels.
  • Hudson: I guess.
  • (Heili): If I’d ended up in this place instead of on that island, I’d have never imagined the ecosystem was natural. Not for two seconds. Take these Nimels for example: they’re actually a new species that was generated a population by the Scyrian structures in the sky decades ago. They have a biology identical to bamals, and the strangest part? There are places in its humps where you can stick a spigot and get clean drinking water. Tastes like piss, but not only is it safe, it doesn’t even harm the Nimel. It’s crackers. Definitely a genetically-engineered modification, but I knew that, didn't I? Maybe studying the creatures here with my new perspective will yield some insight.
  • Xandy:... Well we just got ourselves some info, and- HUDSON?!
  • Hudson: (He was seen taming one)... What? She said they had water in them. And bonus, we got a ride.
  • Xandy:... Eh, why not? I'm tired of riding vehicles anyway. (As they rode on the Limel they kept reading)
  • (Heili): Today, I caught a glimpse of what the caravaners call the "Boundary Dunes". The desolate sea of sand that apparently surrounds the livable portion of the desert on all sides inside the giant crater we're standing in. Now those dunes are pretty inhospitable, what with the harsh sunlight baking the sands, the lack of much water, and even the predators that dwell there. But not only do they, stretch on for a long time, but they're home to... Get this... giant sand "worms" that will devour anything that sets foot in their domain. I laughed that off at first since it seemed unlikely a giant worm like that could survive such an environment with little water and food with such a great metabolism. Then I saw a creature the size of a train burst up from the sand and devour a wild Nimel that had wandered into its territory. I suppose I'll just have to learn to walk without rhythm.
  • Xandy:... Wow. A giant worm.
  • Hudson: Just like the ones that attacked us when we got here.
  • Xandy: Damn.
  • (Heili): As absurd as the Sandons are, I see their purpose. They are a natural barrier. Since this whole crater is apparently another contained and controlled environment like the island, but not also serving as a prison site, then it needs to keep the wildlife and sentient animals inside it who have been a means of sentient animal control contained in a way that appears natural. The island accomplished that by simply being an island, and the desert does it via the Sandons. Granted, a large population of predators with ludicrous kilocalorie needs would never last long in a place as devoid of prey as I said before, but as this is an artificially-crafted and curated environment meant to fix the wastelands outside, the station can feed or, replace the Sandons as needed. It's a little convoluted, but it makes sense.
  • Xandy:... Wow.
  • Hudson: You said it.
  • (Heili): Time to go over the facts. Like the island, this crater desert is a contained surface environment posing as a natural environment until a future date. It is inhabited by a large population of dangerous, genetically-reshaped and controlled creatures, and a small population of sentient animals and immigrating sentient beings that are struggling to survive. This whole environment is then deliberately contained by a combination of a holographic horizon and natural barriers. Assuming the other places around the world are at all similar, then this whole thing is starting to look like some kind of bizarre experiment on a grand scale. Yes, each environment would represent an experimental group, and... I'll have to continue this later. One of the caravan's scouts just returned in a panic. Something about rocks being alive, which is of course ridic.
  • Xandy:... Wow, she hadn't gotten out much, has she?
  • Hudson: Nope. Apparently not.
  • (Heili): I long for the days when I thought a tyrannus frolicking through the snow was the height of absurdity. Compared to yesterday, that seems commonplace. As the scout had so eloquently put, the rocks were indeed alive. Alive, in the shape of a massive, bipedal Rok and exceedingly angry. I was too shocked to scatter like the others when it charged, and for a moment, I was certain that I would die. Then something even more ludicrous happened. Lightning crashed into the Rok, but it didn't come from the sky. It came from the mouth of a bloody Dracthysaur. I don't recall much else. Fear and instinct pretty much took over for the rest of the day, and while that helped me survive, I'm once again on my own.
  • Xandy:... Well that was lucky.
  • Hudson: I should say so, you don't have a savior riding a dracthonosaur saving your life unexpectedly every day.
  • (Heili): Well, I found a new best mate. The little fuzzball isn't exactly what I meant, but I'll take her. It's a little critter called an Earbitidium. They're small, cuddly little herbivores, and as far as I can tell, taming one has no practical use. I just couldn't let the her starve to death, though. I guess all this rubbish with Roks and Drachtysaurs has quenched what was left of my scientific instinct to leave nature to nature. At least we provide each other with a little warmth at night, and her antics have helped to keep my spirits up. I suppose I'll need to give her a name.
  • Hudson/Xandy: Awwww.
  • (Heili): I may have been wrong about Earbitidium not having a practical use. Earlier today, my furry new companion started bouncing around so excitedly that I couldn't calm her down, and then soon enough it started raining. I brushed that off as a coincidence, but soon after filling my waterskins and setting off once more, she started acting skittish. I decided to find shelter just in case, and within minutes light rainfall had turned into an electrical storm. I'll need more evidence to draw any firm conclusions of course, but I wouldn't mind having a fuzzy little creature that can scan for weather with me. You know... It's a little on the nose, but Scanny's not a bad name.
  • Xandy:... Impressive. A creature that can sense weather changes.
  • Hudson: I have GOT to get me one of THOSE!
  • Xandy: (She giggles)
  • (Heili): Thank goodness that I decided to find some high ground two days ago, or I'd have never spotted this settlement. That's twice now that I've stumbled into my own salvation. I can't count on that happening again. I'll need to stay here for a while and prepare before setting out once more. Fortunately, the villagers are willing to let me trade work for supplies and shelter. Another stroke of luck, and another factor I can't rely on. On the island, Stonewell's name got me far, but here I'm just another stranger. Not everyone will trust or help me. I need to be prepared to survive on my own.
  • Hudson:... Well, she's DEFINITELY lucky.
  • (Heili): In some ways, surviving on my own was less work. At least then I wasn't conscripted into manual labor. Ugh, my whole body feels sore! I bet I wouldn't have to work if I were as adorable as Scanny. The whole village is in love with her. I swear, they spoil her like a furry little princess. Stonewell would be livid about this arrangement. I can just hear him ranting about treating scholars with propriety. I hope the old Chredder is doing well. Maybe when I've broken this mystery wide open, I'll figure out a way to get him off the island and we can discuss it all over tea like old times.
  • Hudson:... He's a Chredder, huh?
  • Xandy: Apparently. But, let's see how she does without him.
  • (Heili): While my mind still can't recall the last time I fired a gun, my muscle memory is much better. According to my would-be instructor, I wasn't a complete disaster on the firing range. I'm no pacifist. Death and violence are a part of life, that's just nature. Yet a gun still makes me a little uncomfortable. The idea of shooting at another sentient being or animal, just seems instinctively wrong to me. I couldn't even fire at the Artegerent Legion back on the island. But I need to pull my weight. The villagers have been welcoming and patient with me. For their sake, I need to practice.
  • Hudson: Well, she got this far, so, she might need to catch up with whatever surprises await her.
  • (Heili): I may have to put my freshly-polished marksmanship skills to the test sooner than I thought. A hunting party spotted a swarm of giant M-Lucuses heading in our direction. M-Lucus. I read a lot about them, but I never seen one with my own eyes. But I also didn't expect to see them this early given the villagers have spoken of them every now and again. It's a little-known fact that M-Lucus is an intelligent species. Not sentient intelligent, but intelligent enough to hunt as efficiently as any sentient being. They have strategy. Resourcefulness. These insects were no different. Their little hands can actually grip and wield weapons or tools. Sounds absolutely loony, but there's a lot of loony stuff in the UUniverses. No one seems keen on fighting them, but they're too close to outrun. Hopefully they'll just pass us by.
  • Hudson:... M-Lucus?
  • Xandy: It's a species of giant mangrid. Call them, insect raptors.
  • Hudson:... I see.
  • Xandy:... Ooh. Uh, Hudson, your comment about a savior from the sky riding a dracthonsaur... May not be accurate. Apparently the people get it all the time. Listen to this.
  • (Heili): My hopes that the M-Lucuses would ignore the village were unfounded, and I think we were all wondering if this morning's sunrise would be our last. Despite all my practice, my rifle felt heavy and foreign in my shaking hands as the swarm advanced. Fortunately, they weren't our only visitors. The villagers erupted in cheers as lightning and fire tore through the advancing insects from above. Some chanted a name: The Rayburn Skyrider. The rider, still hidden behind black robes, didn't acknowledge the ovation. With swift efficiency, their small flight of Dracthysaurs decimated the M-Lucus swarm and made for the horizon.... Now that I think about it, she must have been how I survived that fall here from the floating tower. The Rayburn Skyrider.... I need to meet this person, if only to thank them.
  • Xandy:... Well, I suppose she's gonna get a new friend.
  • Hudson: "I would imagine so."
  • (Heili): Just who or what the Skyrider is depends on who you ask. Some of the villagers have attached a religious connotation to the figure, believing it to be some sort of heavenly guardian who appears to worthy in their time of need. One villager is even convinced it's an extraterrestrial. I don't deal in beliefs. I deal in empirical evidence, and that means nothing about the Skyrider is certain until I can meet the figure. I won't forget this village's kindness, especially after granting me a Limel and supplies for my journey, but this is why I'm here: to find answers.
  • Hudson: Well then go find them!
  • Xandy: (She giggles) Are you trying to make me laugh because you like it?
  • Hudson: I don't know, am I? (Xandy laughed harder before she continues reading)
  • (Heili): I'm definitely more prepared for this desert than before, and better equipped. With my Limel offering a large, mobile supply of water and Scanny looking out for the weather, the only threat I really have to worry about is major predators. Also giant Roks. I'm actually impressed with the shape I'm in, if I do say so myself. I think I even saw some ab definition the other day. Took me long enough. I've been living without sweets for ages, after all, You'd think I'd get fit much quicker. Great, now I miss sweets. The things I'd to do taste chooclate again...
  • Xandy: Well, maybe that's a good thing.
  • (Heili): It took weeks of searching, but I finally caught a glimpse of the Rayburn Skyrider. I knew I was getting close when I found a series of fulgurite formations this morning, and sure enough, I spotted several Dracthysaurs later in the afternoon with a lone rider among them. The rider clearly saw me too, because soon enough the Dracthysaurs were circling overhead. I waved and yelled in greeting, even calling out Meya's name just in case. Yet without so much as a nod, the Dracthysaurs regrouped and flew off. Rayburn's not a social cosmofly it seems, but I'm not letting them off the hook that easily.
  • Xandy: Wow. She had to climb big terrain to get to creatures that would so OBVIOUSLY spend time at high altitudes because, you know, THEY CAN FLY!
  • Hudson: Okay, are you trying to give ME the laugh virus?
  • Xandy: I dunno, am I?... (The two laughed together before they continued reading)
  • (Heili): Of course Rayburn lives on a bloody mountain. Of course they do. I saw their Dracthysaurs land at the summit yesterday, and they haven't left. This has to be their home... Unfortunately.
  • Hudson: See?
  • (Heili): The paths were too narrow for my Limel, so I had to leave it behind. It should know to wander off if I don't return for it, not that I can really afford to worry about it. The climb's doing a fine job of kicking my ass even without distractions. I swear, if I don't have a six pack after climbing a mountain in the bloody desert, I'm going to be awfully cross.
  • Xandy: Oh, I bet this 'Rayburn' person's got a LOTTA wawa to go around.
  • (Heili): I don't know what kind of reception I expected when I reached the summit, but laughter wasn't one of them. Yet that was exactly what I heard when I finally let myself collapse and started flinging every obscenity I could think of at this damned mountain: the bemused laughter of an old woman. The Rayburn Skyrider is definitely no guardian angel. She was quick to dismiss those particular rumors with remarks about how the gods have abandoned this wretched place. As long I avoided that subject though, she's welcomed my questions with surprising warmth, though often enigmatically. I have a feeling that I'll need to be patient with her.
  • Hudson: Huh? The Skyrider's old?... Well, good on her for keeping herself fit and agile.
  • Xandy: Well she says that the Skyrider is an Invervasaur. They can stay physically fit even when on borrowed time.
  • Hudson: Lucky reptiles.
  • (Heili): It turns out that I didn't find the Skyrider. She found me. I was right. She WAS the one who saved me from that fall here. According to Rayburn, it was easy for her to spot me falling and screaming from atop her Dracthysaur, and she started tailing me soon afterwards and saved me the moment I fainted from fright. I guess her timely interventions were no coincidence. She didn't seem very surprised when I told her about the obelisks, their guardians or even that this desert is actually a controlled and contained environment. Either she knows more than she's saying, or experience has grinded the surprise right out of her.
  • Xandy:... Seems this Skyrider knows more than she lets on.
  • Hudson: Clearly.
  • (Heili): I really missed flying. There's no replicating the feeling, and no replacement for seeing a sunrise amongst the clouds. Rayburn probably started these Dracthysaur riding sessions just to give herself an escape hatch when our conversations get too personal, but I can't say I mind. Despite their appearance, riding a Dracthysaur is just as pleasant as riding a Pteriornis, even without a saddle. By design, perhaps? No matter. Genetically redesigned or not, they are magnificent creatures. It's a risky proposition, but I absolutely must observe them in the wild sometime. I can't pass up an opportunity like that.
  • Hudson: (Chuckles) Nerds these days and their addiction to science, am I right? (He and Sandy chuckled)
  • (Heili): Now that Rayburn has deemed my Dracthysaur riding skills acceptable, she's finally agreed to show me around the region. From what I can gather, she's been here for a very long time, maybe longer than Stonewell was on the island. She knows the history of every village and ruin. Apparently there was once a great city to the southeast, but it was wiped out at some point. She's still mum on a lot of details, but I'll just have to keep prying. Scanny's been helpful in that regard. Rayburn definitely seems to be in a better mood when the fuzzball's around. That little charmer's certainly earned her keep.
  • Xandy: Uh-huh.
  • (Heili): I'm grateful that Rayburn allows me time to study the local wildlife, but I suspect she only does so out of amusement. She always says something like, "Why do you spend so much time on these scribbles that no one will read?" I never have a good retort. It's true that no one else may ever read my dossiers, as I have no way to reproduce or distribute them as long as they're trapped in on one of these contained environments. When I started them, they were a passion project, created out of my love for nature and its creatures. Now? I guess they're just part of my identity. Writing them helps remind me who I am. I am Heili Runner, daughter of late renowned archaeologist Johnna Runner.
  • Xandy:... Well, lucky SOMEONE came across them, huh? (The two laughed)
  • (Heili): I can't believe it! Rayburn spotted someone wandering in the desert the other day, and it turned out to be none other than Edwyn Stonewell! I just about burst into tears when I recognized him. Apparently, he heard that Nervay was holding me captive and sought to negotiate my release. That lead him to the cave, and eventually he wound up here. Awfully sweet of him to go through all that trouble for my sake! Strangely, Rayburn claims that she saw a portal open up far away from her territory shortly before I fell into the desert. I guess that was Stonewell, though Rayburn arrived at the scene too late to track him. Stonewell theorized that the portals may have taken us through time as well as space. Considering my present company, I'm inclined to agree with him.
  • Hudson:... Hmm. I guess that's much of a coincidence.
  • Xandy: Yeah.... Maybe even... TOO coincidental?
  • (Heili): Rayburn has been much quieter since we found Stonewell. I guess she's just letting us catch up. However, she did say something interesting when we were recounting Nervay's ambitions for the island. "This place would never allow anyone to master it." she said, and when I asked her to explain, she told me that the great city to the southeast was destroyed by the obelisk itself. Now it's just conjecture, but it's interesting to think about. Could the curators of these stations be monitoring human behavior and clipping its wings should the survivors ever band together and fly too close to the sun? If each station represents a different group in a larger experiment, "resetting" sentient progress would make a lot of sense. It's a bit grim though, isn't it? Yikes.
  • Xandy:... Why would these environments do that?
  • Hudson: How should I know? Not much is known about why the Scyrians built these contained environments. Maybe it's to plan for their return? Or to reterraform the planet when they come back? I dunno.
  • (Heili): I don't think Stonewell's been sleeping much. I awoke last night to find him studying a strange piece of metal by firelight. I guess some tribe gave it to him as a gift, along with a very familiar looking artifact. I insisted that we show those items to Rayburn, and she recognized them as the property of this station's lone guardian. With all that she knows, I'm not surprised that she's activated the obelisks before. Hell, it sounds like the old battle axe has even slain the beast herself. She said it was a creature called a 'Mantilovia'. Since we have said guardian's artifact, Rayburn says that we can leave this station at any time. I suppose we may as well. Stonewell's eager to depart, and as much as I like Rayburn, I've had my fill of sand.
  • Xandy:... Well, I guess that was a good story, but there's a few pages left.
  • (Heili): The transporter that can take us back to the "control center" station is in the ruins of another city, south of the mountains. Rayburn believes that it was destroyed by the obelisks, just like the city in the southeast. I didn't press her for details, not that I'd have gotten any. Rayburn's more tight-lipped about those ruins than anything. I had to practically beg her to take me to the southeastern city, and while we were there, she spent most of her time just gazing out into the distance. No sense in bringing her mood down with that rubbish now. After all that she's done for me, I'd like give her a nice, proper farewell. But before we could go further, seems that the Mantilovia had followed us outside into the desert. Apparently, Stonewell had collected more of that strange metal he had before, and something about it is angering the giant beast. My answers to why Rayburn was so down about the southeastern city when a stranger came in and saved us. It was a subterranean wild-accented Mephean who tamed a plethora of subterranean lizards, and it was someone whom Rayburn knew and loved, and thought was dead. We were able to drive the creature back into it's home when Stonewell needed serious persuasion. The man was more stubborn than I remember. What happened, I don't know. Maybe it was the metal? Regardless, our lives were saved.
  • Xandy:... Yikes.
  • Hudson: I couldn't have said that better.
  • Xandy: Yes you could've.
  • Hudson: Eh, you're right.
  • Xandy: Kay, last page.
  • (Heili): Having seen us through the ruins after that Mantilovia attack, and safely to the platform, Rayburn and her Mephean subterranean lover had taken their leave. After doing so much for me, I was sad to see her and this new bloke I just met go, but at least I got her to smile before she left with him. Well, me and Scanny. I can't very well take the little critter with me, so I officially gave Rayburn and the Mephean ownership of her. They'll be good for each other, I think. Gah, I wrote "Rayburn" and "Mephean" up there. Twice! I suppose old habits die hard, but they're not really their name, are they? I always knew that was the case, but she'd never told me to call her anything else. At least not until now. Well at any rate... Cheers, Rav. And... Cheers, Johno. It was a pleasure to have known you... And you for a brief time after saving us.... What a strange history they shared.
  • Xandy:... Interesting.
  • Hudson: Well, who these 'Rav' and 'Johno' people are, I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.
  • Xandy: Yeah. And look, she says she has ANOTHER journal somewhere else.
  • Hudson:... I guess we have ourselves hunting for a story, huh?
  • Xandy: Looks like it.

(Later...) Lapse Wastes

  • Xandy: Oh, son of a gun, Hud, you won't believe this, but I FOUND ANOTHER JOURNAL FROM HEILI!!
  • Hudson: OH WOW WHO WOULD'VE GUESSED?!? (The two laughed hysterically)
  • Xandy: I think we both caught the laugh virus today.
  • Hudson: Maybe we have. You still have a beautiful laugh.
  • Xandy: Oh, stop it! Let's just read this sucker. (They opened the book and read)
  • (Heili): Bloody hell, this place is weird. Don't get me wrong, it's fascinating too. Such an abundance of underground flora is completely unheard of, and because so many of the plants here are bioluminescent, the whole forest has an eerie beauty to it. That's just it though. 'Eerie' is the operative word. I've been holding my rifle so tightly since we got here that I swear I've left dents in the grip. We should have gone back to the island first before coming here. People know us there, they might have preferred help and supplies as much as we did. Stonewell didn't want to hear it though, and I wasn't about to let him come here alone.
  • Xandy:... Hmm. Looks like they wasted no time coming here.
  • Hudson: I know. This place IS beautiful... Despite all the poisonous spores, gases, radiation, and other stuff.
  • (Heili): "You can't surprise me anymore, life," I said. "After all the hodgepodge of things I have seen, I'm ready for anything." "What about flying squid-battus-murder-monsters?" life replied. "Well, that is mildly surprising," I conceded. By which I mean, I shot and cursed at those things all afternoon. At least, when I wasn't running from them. Thankfully after thinning their numbers a little, they decided that Stonewell and I weren't worth the trouble. Let's hope they don't change their minds. I'm not sure I have enough ammunition left to fend them off again. And yes, I know that FSBMM isn't the most scientific of monikers, but I'm bloody upset with them right now so that's what I'm calling them... Along with some other names I'd rather not write down.
  • Hudson: (Chuckles) She seems to have an ounce of humor inside of her.
  • Xandy: (Chuckles) I know. Maybe she's the one infecting us with the laugh virus. (They both laughed before they continue reading)
  • (Heili): While I can't say I'm enamored with this station's wildlife, I'm certainly grateful for its abundance of natural resources, particularly water. The permeability of the rocks here is astounding. The cavern walls are wet with condensation, and the floor is littered with pools of water. After all that time in the desert, this is one change I can welcome with open arms! Thank Gods for hydration! I don't mean that just for my own sake, either. Stonewell seems... Distracted. The other day, I had to keep him from walking headlong into a poisonous mushroom. He wouldn't fare well in a harsher environment. Then again, at his age, I'm sure I'd lose a step too.
  • Hudson:... Well, at least she's taking this utopian hell with stride.
  • (Heili): There's no mistaking it. That was a giant, armored subterranean rodent. Thankfully it wasn't aggressive, so I was able to get a good look at it. It's appearance made me realize something that I'd taken for granted. Much of the creatures I've encountered has some basis on either a known species, or legend. Like the FSBMMs (still cross with them), as they appear to be a pastiche of known fauna. The Scyrians seemed like they weren't just genetically reshaping animals, but were genetic engineering in general. What does that mean? Am I grasping at straws here with how much the Scyrians knew or did? I can't say, but it's worth pondering. Especially since I heard Stonewell muttering something about an 'Adytum Project', whatever that is.
  • Hudson:... Clifton and Samantha were talking about Stonewell knowing what that is.
  • Xandy: They did. But, they seemed a little uneased 'bout how Stonewell did his things.
  • Hudson: Well, we would too after we heard them.
  • (Heili): The FSBMMs returned, and I was right. I didn't have the firepower to fight them. Luckily someone else did. It was incredible! I've never seen a sentient being move that fast... Or at least in my still-young days alive. One second, I'm a dead woman, and the next there's someone in glowing, silver armor tearing through those creatures like they were sodos. One got punched so hard it skipped off the cavern floor. As if a super savior wasn't shocking enough, when they lifted their visor, I found a familiar face. It was Meya! It took me a good minute to form a sentence after that. I must have looked like a complete dipstick, because I swear, she almost laughed. At least I'm a living dipstick, and with her around, I just might stay that way.
  • Xandy:... Well, I'm relieved Meya is still alive... But how? Oh wait, she explains it on this page.
  • (Heili): What's the saying? Absence makes the heart grow fonder? On the island, I wasn't sure where I stood with Meya, but now we've been catching up like best mates. She apologized for socking me in the face, I learned how she arrived here and that she got her new scar while battling Nervay to the death. You know. Best mate things. She said that Nervay died when being encroached on the surface above, as it seems that the sky above it has lost it's ozone layer, causing it to be scorched with radiation. She also introduced us to some of her new allies at her camp, and here's where it gets loony... At least to me... Most of them are UIS races. Particularly the head, Dinia, who is a Skorner, my race's most hated rival race. Though I naturally kept my distance, it seemed she didn't have time for racial concerns. But what also perplexed me was her name: Dinia Altories. Skorners had a much more sparse name design. That means she was orphaned.... Either that or her parents wanted to branch off their races' traditional naming style. Whatever the case, it sure made me think.
  • Xandy:... Impressive. I guess Solus' endeavors were around before he even joined us.
  • Hudson: Well, this 'Dinia' person seems too concerned with something else to be concerned about such an immediate concern like their races' relations.
  • (Heili): The journey to the village was a bit tricky. Since Stonewell and I lack the high-tech armor the others wear, they had to help us along with rope ladders and zip-lines. We made it eventually though, and it's quite the sight. The technology this tribe uses is incredible, although Stonewell was far more intrigued by it than I was. Dinia gave us the grand tour and he pelted her with questions the whole time. Fortunately, Dinia just smiled and answered his questions patiently. Apparently she was a pilot in her prime. But I don't understand how I never knew that the UIS were establishing their own contained environments like the Tiikons were, and how I hardly met a single UIS-oriented race until now. It just gets curiouser and curiouser as I go, doesn't it?
  • Hudson:... I'm amazed by that, too.
  • Xandy: Yeah, you'd think she'd meet at least ONE UIS-loyal race.
  • (Heili): I have to convince them to stop! There's no way the station will allow this. "This place would never allow anyone to master it." If it weren't for Rav's warning, I'd be ecstatic about what they were creating. A gateway that can help them escape the environment that was not just contained by science, but by nature and the geological formations around us and reach some kind of strange signal location? It's brilliant, but the obelisks will kill everyone here before we can complete it, just like they destroyed the village Rav told me about. I'm sure of it. Bloody hell, I'm going to look like an absolute madwoman. I've barely settled in here and I'm already coming to them with doomsday prophecies. I'll need to convince Meya and Dinia first. They're my best bet.
  • Xandy:... Huh?... This place is THAT contained? I mean, granted, the way we got in almost killed us, but, wow.
  • (Heili): The tribe's leadership was surprisingly receptive to my ideas, but still a bit skeptical, and not just because I was a Tiikon, which I'm sure they've grown numb to at this point. Apparently they've already fiddled with one of the obelisks, and even damaged this station's control center. So while they believe my account of what happened in the desert, they think the threat is already contained. Thankfully Dinia convinced them to lend me a small team to inspect the obelisk, just in case. Better than nothing, at least. However, here, getting to an obelisk is something of a risky proposition. They rest on the irradiated surface above. That means before I go, I'll need to get a crash course on that armor.
  • Xandy:... She just cannot catch a break, huh?
  • Hudson: Not many can on this planet, Xandy.
  • (Heili): My time in the desert may have given me some skill with firearms and helped me get fit, despite failing to give me washboard abs much to my chagrin, but I'm still no soldier. That was evident to anyone who saw me flailing around in the training yard these past few days. If it weren't for Meya and Dinia, I'd still be crashing my high-tech armor into rocks or tripping over myself like a drunken sodo. Plus, I always feel less silly when there's someone to laugh at my mistakes along with me. Fortunately Meya will be accompanying me to the obelisks, so this whole thing won't rest in my unsteady, armored hands. Thank Gods!
  • Xandy:... But at least she's not catching no breaks alone.
  • Hudson: Nopesy do.
  • (Heili): Meya and I set out yesterday, alongside Dinia's boyfriend, a bespectacled computer expert named Santrago. He'll be the one to actually examine the obelisk. He claims that he can hack into its terminal. If it's preparing to unleash a surge of power, as I suspect, then he says that he might be able to reroute it. Stonewell, for his part, is staying behind. He's been aiding the village's scientists in their studies since we arrived and has become rather... Engrossed. Every other sentence with him is about that bloody metal he named after himself. It's a bit troubling, but thankfully Dinia said she'd look after him. I can't spend time worrying after Stonewell now, though. The fate of that whole village might depend on this expedition. Focus up, Heili! Let's do this!
  • Xandy:... I have a feeling-
  • Hudson: That this'll define who they really are? I'm with you, Xandy.... Oh, look at us, we're finishing each other's sentences. (They laughed, but then stopped).... Let's not turn into THOSE kinds of couples, it gets creepy and/or annoying after awhile.
  • Xandy: "Ditto."
  • (Heili): The structure of this environment must be vastly different from the others to allow for these massive caverns. Is that uncommon, or do many of the environments vary so radically from one another? I've only seen three. For all I know, they could come in all shapes and sizes. This one is contained naturally as well as scientifically. It's inside a closed cave system and the only exit is through complex aquifers filled with alien-looking marine worms. Speaking of different, Meya's been fairly talkative since we left, at least for her. She'll still grow quiet sometimes, but instead of trying to burn me to death with invisible eye lasers, she stares into the distance and idly fiddles with her necklace. I think it depicts a plane or spaceship of some kind. I wonder where she got it?
  • Hudson:... At least she knows what we had to go through. Those worms are MERCILESS!
  • (Heili): The surface is more radioactive than I thought. Then again, the sun is different than one I would see as normal. Direct exposure to THIS kind of sunlight during the day will quickly burn a sentient being to a crisp, even in this fancy armor. Nervay must've been through absolute HELL when he died here. That means we have to adjust our sleep schedules and wait just below the surface until night falls. When it does, we'll make a mad dash for the obelisk, let Santrago get in as much work as he dares, then run our asses back to safety. Strewth! I thought that bloody desert was diabolical, but this tops it for sure! Why couldn't we do something simple, like flee from a pack of ravenous tyrannuses or something? This life I lead, I swear...
  • Hudson: Oh that radioactive desert is as merciless as those worms for sure.
  • (Heili): Santrago's still going over his readings from last night, but even without them, it seems clear that the obelisk was behaving oddly. It was pulsing wildly and the ground beneath it received regular tremors, as if the whole place was on the verge of tearing itself apart. If this obelisk goes off, it could mean armageddon for every living thing inside those caverns. Despite this, Santrago is insisting on analyzing his readings. The scientist in me is proud of his dedication to hard evidence, but the part of me that would rather not be obliterated by a mysterious, high tech barrier really wishes he would hurry the hell up.
  • Xandy:... Heh. We would too, frankly.
  • (Heili): We shared our findings with the village by Holonet. Santrago's analysis confirmed what I suspected. The obelisks are highly unstable. They could be days away from reacting. However, Santrago raised a good point. Even if the Escape Project is shut down, we can't say for sure that it would stabilize the obelisks. It may be too late to dissuade the barricade from destroying the village. The only way to ensure our survival is to shut down the obelisks themselves. Johno DID say this place looked unstable, and he was really onto something. According to Santrago, we can't do that from the obelisk's platforms, but he may be able to manipulate said platforms into teleporting us somewhere we could. Specifically? Into the heart of the environment's master matrix itself. It's a huge risk, but it may be the only hope we have.
  • Xandy:... Let's hope she makes it.
  • Hudson: Yeah, let's.

Who Is Edwyn Stonewell?Edit

Jungle

  • Clifton:... Where'd you get this, Sam?
  • Samantha: Found it in some kind of fancy chest.... It's the journal of a man named... Sir Edwyn Stonewell.
  • Clifton:... I've heard that name a lot on this mission. Well... I guess it's about time we found out why, and even why people don't like hearing it.
  • Samantha:... (Sighs)... Well... Probably a good idea. (They read)
  • (Stonewell): Greetings and salutations dear reader!
  • Samantha: "Okay, who other then themselves has expected people would read these things?"
  • Clifton: "Well this just screams egoist."
  • (Stonewell): If these words are gracing your eyes, then you have had the good fortune to find the journal of Sir Edwyn Stonewell, stupendous scholar, gallant gentleman and explorer extraordinaire. It also means that it’s entirely possible that I’ve met some unseemly end on this fascinating but exceedingly dangerous planet that I call home. I suppose you could have also stolen it or I could have misplaced it in which case please proceed to either hang your head in shame or return it to me at once. Whichever is appropriate. Regards, Sir Edwyn Stonewell.
  • Clifton:... Dafuq?... Yeesh, this guy has an interesting opinion on himself.
  • Samantha:... Samest assured belief that he's an egoist.
  • (Stonewell): The wondrous properties of the flora on this island will never cease to amaze me. Glad I drugged my parents before they could take this golden opportunity of research first. Otherwise, if I’d told my colleagues back home that I could create a concoction capable of erasing someone’s memories, I’d be laughed out of the room and never invited to tea again for being such a ripoff of my own kin. Yet here it sits: my Mindfreshening Tonic. As usual, I’ve had tribal leaders grovelling at the gates of Stonewell Manor just for the tiniest of samples, and for the recipe? Oh the bounties I’ve been offered! I’m not interested in their riches though. I have their protection, supplies for my studies and all the time in the world. What more could I ask for?
  • Samantha:... He seems really morally grey.
  • Clifton: That is debatable, cause I still get "Egoist" from this guy.
  • (Stonewell): These tribal negotiations give me a headache every time. The Blackhands are mad that the Dyesharks sunk two of their barges, but the Dyesharks say that the barges were too close to Southern Haven and they were perfectly within their rights to sink them as per The South Island Accords. Typically, neither side is willing to budge. What a bother. I’d just as soon find fresh the lot of them and return to my studies. Alas, such is the fate of the island’s most respected neutral entity. At least the Dyesharks brought some fresh fish. Perhaps I’ll side with them.
  • Samantha:... He also seems to have some... Hoity-toityness to him.
  • Clifton: "I'd go for "Snobby Asshole"."
  • (Stonewell): Any chemist worth his salt knows the irreplaceable value of testing. Until a tonic has been rigorously tested, it is less useful than water. If only I could persuade this island’s less intellectual inhabitants to see that tests on monkeys serve well for early trials, but they are no replacement for genuine sentient subjects at later, safer stages. By subjects, I of course mean willing participants that are prepared to risk mild headaches and much less mild nausea for the sake of science. The Rock Skulls offered rather less willing participants at one point, but I declined. With how difficult it is to find volunteers these days, I sometimes regret it.
  • Clifton:... He, tested his experiments, on his own guests?!
  • Samantha: There goes that "Morally Grey" statement, I guess. It's abit more darker than expected in some areas.
  • Clifton: All he had to do was ask!
  • Samantha: In all fairness Clifton, what do we know about how this world works? If it was nicer, we wouldn't even need to be here.
  • (Stonewell): Miss Runner's impromptu visits are always an unexpected pleasure. Especially since her mother was quite as smart as they come. Johnna Runner was studying the Scyrian precursors of this planet for decades. So after that headache with the Sharks and Blackhands, a lively tea-time discussion about the abnormalities of the island's ecosystem was precisely what I needed. Thank goodness I've managed to find an intellectual colleague that shares my love for the sciences. It saddens me to think that Miss Runner's charming colonial accent would keep her out of the more prestigious institutions and societies back home. Another of the Island's wonders, it is a true meritocracy unlike any in the modern world. If Miss Runner and I could find and cultivate more minds like ourselves, we could create a true scientific utopia.
  • Clifton: Ya know, I haven't even physically met the dude, but even just READING about him has that veil of me imagining his face being punchable!
  • Samantha: I would imagine that this man is a sort-of pariah in this world.
  • (Stonewell): This expedition to Whitewind Peak has been just splendid, top to bottom. The weather's been marvelous, I've found excellent floral samples and the local hunters had more Wooloceros horns than you could shake a stick at. I even managed to find volunteers for my latest experiment! It turns out that it was simply a matter of linguistics: those who are wary of experimental serums are much more receptive to experimental food. Once my Omnithermic Pastes were renamed Frosser Curry, people were clamoring to test it. It has moderate nutritional value, so it's not technically a deception. It's just favorable language in the name of progress, that's all. Perfectly moral.
  • Clifton: Ya might want a second opinion on that, doc!
  • Samantha: I believe it's obvious he's trying to comfort himself in his actions and delude himself into thinking these are necessary evils. This man is of troubled mind and soul.
  • Clifton: "I'm thinking more along the lines of him being JACKSHIT INSANE?!"
  • Samantha: "Well if you are to be vulgar about it, then yes."
  • Clifton: Oh don't act like ya don't agree other than because ya try to be polite due to Magilo-User policy and stuff. He even drugged his own parents to take credit for this research first? I don't think anybody is THAT egomaniacal.
  • Samantha: Pride can be a powerful and dangerious vice.
  • (Stonewell): Sadly my Frosser Curry trials cannot begin immediately as the volunteers have a much more difficult journey to Stonewell Manor than I. After all, I couldn't very well carry every one of them on Achitans. Yes, the Pteriornis could clutch one with his talons, but I've always found the practice to be barbaric. The rest of the island may be embroiled in feudal savagery, but a gentleman always maintains his class and dignity. At any rate, I must have my assistants renovate the guest compound. Naturally, I would never let strangers into the manor proper, but there's no reason there stay should not affect my civilized standards.
  • Clifton: Wow, he couldn't even get his victims to come to his place. Pfft, what a maroon.
  • Samantha: "I don't believe this is a matter of him being intellectually inferior as more like the natives have proven, weary."
  • (Stonewell): Having readily available subjects has helped my experiments tremendously even if their numbers dwindled over time. Not only was I able to curb the side effects of my Frosser Curry's endothermic properties, but I managed to bring out an additional benefit of the mixture. Now, it also lowers the subject's metabolism, letting them go longer without needing food. Marvelous! I hadn't even considered that as a possibility. Why, with all I've learned from these experiments, I imagine that I could reverse the effects of the Curry and create a concoction to aid survival in extreme heat as well. I must find more volunteers posthaste.
  • Clifton: JUST ASK, YOU BUMBLING MANIPULATOR!
  • Samantha: Clifton, you think he hasn't tried? He was clearly getting abit of a reputation at this point."
  • Clifton: Hey, this is just wrong. Scientists have standards, you know.
  • Samantha:  "Well perhaps being in this strange world compromised his better judgment."
  • Clifton: Ya too gentle on this hack, Sam! I hope this guy's dead, or at least his acts got him in trouble.
  • Samantha: "Ahem! I would've chosen saying "I hope Karma made a desired judgment on him"."
  • (Stonewell): I decided to seek out volunteers for my next experiment among the island's larger tribes. I thought that surely they would be willing to help after I patiently moderated so many of their frivolous disputes. How idealistic of me. Instead, they have yet another favor to ask. Apparently there's a new tribe that's behaving rather aggressively and no one can successfully negotiate with its leader. So naturally they have turned to me. It's rather bothersome, but I can't touch their logic. If Sir Edwyn Stonewell cannot reason with this Nervay fellow, then who can?
  • Clifton:... A conqueror tribe?
  • Samantha: Better keep reading to be safe.
  • Clifton: Good idea. (They kept reading)
  • (Stonewell): Well, I found the report on Mister Nervay to be rather exaggerated, and as any gentleman one might imagine that I'd view imperial leadership with some disdain. Yet in my experience, I found Mister Nervay to be both honest and intellectually engaging....Orat least Mr. Nervay TRIES. In fact, after a lengthy conversation, I daresay that Mister Nervay has the right of it when it comes to this island's politics. He argued that this island needed to be more civilized and he even wishes to escape the island and expand, especially since his family was stranded there for, get this, eons. That means they originated from the days of the Scyrians. I doubt his endeavors will harm my research, so I see no reason to interfere in this pointless squabble.
  • Clifton:... He's agreeing, with a conqueror?
  • Samantha: I'm guessing he was able to relate better with a fellow pariah.
  • Clifton: Not when the people who negotiate or use it are too dense to have a proper conscience.
  • Samantha: (Sighs and kept reading)
  • (Stonewell): How can these tribal leaders be so short-sighted? Yes, the members of their respective tribes who volunteered for my Combat Tartare and Strengthening Sauté experiments have been experiencing prolonged withdrawal episodes, but can't they see that the benefits outweigh the costs?
  • Clifton: "Well maybe the costs were TOO UGLY to cope with for any legit plus-sides, dorkinstein!"
  • (Stonewell): I create mixtures that can bring out enhanced strength, speed and coordination in ordinary men and they can only focus on the negatives. Simple-minded, the lot of them!
  • Clifton: "Well again, maybe these were SOME REALLY BAD NEGATIVES for them to be all like "NOPE"!"
  • Samantha: "Sometimes scientists worry more about long-term good over short-term and intermediate inconveniences like what was happening with the persons."
  • (Stonewell): They even banned their members from partaking in my experiments now. Ridiculous! I'll not let them stand in the way of sentient progress. They may not understand the importance of my work, but surely my assistants do.
  • Clifton: Well, it's about TIME they opened their eyes. I hope he got what he deserved.
  • Samantha:... Well, there's still more entries, so your dark desires are left unfulfilled at the moment.
  • (Stonewell): I've decided to take a brief vacation from the laboratory. Well, I say that I've decided to, but the whole thing was my assistant Isabellene's idea. She noticed that I'd been quite ruffled lately and suggested that I take a bit of time to myself before rushing headlong into my next experiment. Such an observant young woman, that Isabellene. She's somewhat lacking as a chemist, but she understands my moods almost better than I do. I daresay that an old fashioned adventure will do me some good. Nothing like some rigorous recreation to clear the mind. Perhaps I'll go spelunking. Yes, a splendid idea! I know just the place for it.
  • Samantha:... At least he still has some gentlemanly dignity.
  • Clifton: Sure, like THAT justifies his immoral scientific code.
  • Samantha: "Clifton, by all means, I'm no fan of his motivations neither, but continuous judging makes for the kind of people that Stonewell ended up being. I suspect his sanity was dwindling cause of always being rejected, even if you had found them reasonable or not."
  • Clifton: ".... Okay, fair point."
  • (Stonewell): Remarkable. Absolutely remarkable! When I chose that remote northern cave as the site of my spectacular spelunking sojourn, I'd never imagined that I'd find such wonders within. Granted, I don't know what this specific wonder does exactly, but it's fascinating to examine. It's like nothing I've ever seen! I don't even recognize the materials that it's composed of, and it's constantly pulsing with some sort of latent energy. What is it? Is it unique or are there similar artifacts just waiting to be discovered beneath the island's surface? My, how invigorating! Isabellene was right, this was exactly what I needed. I feel like a young Chredder again!
  • Clifton:... Oh, so he's a Chredder.
  • Samantha: You were wondering that?
  • Clifton: Yeah, people all over the UUniverses are so mix-matched these days. It becomes an instinct you have to know what they are, because next thing you know, when you mock someone before seeing what they are, they'll be as big as a whule and kick your ass.
  • Samantha: Let us resume the book.
  • (Stonewell): Eureka! My theory was correct. The small podium at the base of the obelisk is definitely responding to the artifact's proximity and vice versa. Honestly I feel foolish for not attempting this sooner! The stylistic similarities between the artifacts and the obelisks floating above the island seems so obvious to me now. Clearly they were created within the same culture and era. Bizarrely, while both the artifact and obelisks are in exquisite condition, there are no other signs of this mysterious civilization. How could that be? What kind of mad society would gallivant about some remote island, building towering structures and stuffing knickknacks into caves before vanishing without a trace? I don't understand it, but it's certainly piqued my curiosity.
  • Clifton: Get in line, Ched-head, there's plenty who have done the same.
  • Samantha: (Sighs) Clifton, I can't say I'm a fan of this person myself, but can you get over it already? It's been years since this was written.
  • (Stonewell): Well, I think I've gotten as far in my studies of the obelisks as my archaeological expertise will take me. A shame, really. This has been such a joyous little diversion that I hate to see it end. Ah Stonewell, you old twit. You've forgotten the origins of this little excursion: spelunking. Did you yourself not hypothesize that there may be more artifacts hidden elsewhere on this island? Surely you can't give up before confirming that. No, certainly not, nor can I be expected to scour the island's corners alone. Perhaps someone can spelunk in my stead? Better yet, perhaps someone has already spelunked!
  • Clifton:... Let's see where he goes with this, because I think we might get information on this Scyrian technology.
  • Samantha: Good thinking. Though I must caution'd that it may get darker from here.
  • (Stonewell): After many days of scouring the island upon Achitans and many more fruitless conversations with the witless, savage sods that seem to make up most of this island's population, I have finally found the spelunkers I need! A tribe to the northwest called the Steel Brotherhood has apparently found three artifacts themselves, and it's clear that said relics share an origin with my own. In exchange for my artifact, the Brotherhood agreed to report any findings to me straight away as they continue their search. What stupendously good fortune! Now I can return to my alchemical studies with renewed vigor, while they crawl through the island's caverns in my stead. Brilliant.
  • Clifton:... Okay, I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but using people for your own needs?... I mean, I don't think it's using them, but... Okay, you know what? I'm done arguing about his morals. They're still as gray as the sky right now.
  • Samantha: Thank you for keeping an open head, Cliff. I love you for it. And if it helps, as before, he's not my favorite person either. As A magilo, I just make myself above anger and being offended by undesirable actions. Doesn't mean my dissatisfaction has to be unknown.
  • Clifton: You love me period.
  • Samantha: (Chuckles as they kept reading)
  • (Stonewell): The first round of trials for my new Lazereus Chowder have gone marvelously, but I have found it hard to maintain my enthusiasm. After all, I will never get truly definitive results with only primitive primate subjects. It is quite frustrating. Even so, I see now that Isabellene was right. Having my assistants take part in the trials would be asking too much of them, and they are too valuable to risk so frivolously. If I cannot find sentient subjects from the nearby tribes, then I shall have to make do with trials on greater apes that are a close second. Perhaps it is finally time to capture some Pithecuses...
  • Clifton:... Good for you, you're starting to get more moral. Why was I ever angry at this person?
  • Samantha: "Be cautious though, he might have a turnaround later."
  • (Stonewell): I admit there are times when it is useful to live among simpletons. For example, I was able to trade several gallons of my Lazereus Chowder to a group of hunters in exchange for an entire contingent of tamed Pithecuses, and they never questioned whether it had been tested on sentient beings yet. Well, I suppose if they return with another batch of apes, then I'll know that Lazereus Chowder doesn't cause asphyxiation, won't I? It's not exactly a conclusive, scientific trial, but I suppose it will serve. Unfortunately all these bigger primates have given Stonewell Manor quite the pungent odor. Isabellene said she is working on some sort of air freshener, but I hope she makes haste.
  • Clifton: Well, keep trying, good sir. Failure is the best teacher.
  • (Stonewell): I am perplexed. Even with an expanded number of test subjects, I just cannot find the passion that I once had for my research. I truly thought that my recent adventure had lit a fire in my belly, but I constantly find myself losing focus. Confound it all! Perhaps said adventure itself is the problem. Thinking about it, I am always eager to discuss the obelisks and the artifacts I found with my assistants, even when I am not in the mood for research. There is a certain allure to them that I cannot describe, something that causes my thoughts to drift in their direction, like the pull of a strong tide. But it could simply be a passing fancy. I must give myself more time.
  • Clifton: Mmm, I wouldn't call researching this kind of tech 'boring', in an unrefined tongue.
  • Samantha: Neither would I. Studying precursor races that have shaped a backbone for the UUniverses are a scientist's pride and joy.
  • Clifton: "I'm guessing he might not be the right kind of scientist for this then."
  • (Stonewell): I was ever so glad to see Miss Runner again. My assistants are clever in their own right, but dear Johnna Jr. is still the only person that I feel comfortable diving into my deeper theories with. I fear that I may have kept her from getting a word in edgewise, though. Once I got going on the obelisks, why I just couldn't contain my enthusiasm! My word, I really have become quite enamored with the subject, haven't I? Well, that settles it! After this next set of trials, I shall go check on the Steel Brotherhood's progress. Perhaps I can convince Miss Runner to join me. We could make a real scientific expedition out of it!
  • Samantha:... At least he has a friend of equal intellect to share words with.
  • Clifton: Glad for that myself. At least he grew on his own too.
  • (Stonewell): The latest Broth of Knowledge trials have concluded, and as expected, I am disappointed in the results. Thought the primates I tested it on showed increased aptitude for learning, I do not believe any of them have truly ascended to a higher level of intelligence. Well bugger the little blighters, I say! My assistants have almost finished preparing my supplies for my next expedition, and I have drafted a letter to send to the Steel Brotherhood ahead of my departure. Soon enough, I'll have forgotten all about the... Pardon the interruption, it seems that I have a guest. Now just what is Mister Nervay doing here? I suppose I'll find out.
  • Clifton: Oh, yeah, I forgot about this Nervay guy.
  • (Stonewell): I have always tried to maintain a strict neutrality when it comes to tribal matters and affairs, as with the rules of the grander community of the universes, but then again, I have never had an offer this tempting from someone as respectable as Mister Nervay. Not only has he offered to provide me with test subjects, but he has also expressed a mutual interest in investigating the obelisks. All he asks from me is that I provide him with "reliable council." I would trust few tribes to be able to make good on such promises, but Mister Nervay's Artegerant Legion is perhaps the most powerful tribe on the island. Indeed, if they maintain their current trajectory, they may be the only powerful tribe on the island. His offer is worth considering, at the very least.
  • Clifton:... Okay, so much for having respect for him. Nervay had re-sparked his immoral practices by giving him test subjects.
  • Samantha: Well I did cautioned that the last view pages were a brief period. Look, Clifton, it's a cold cold world out here. War and suffering has been happening since the beginning of time, and often times for the most pettiest of reasons.
  • Clifton: Yes, but sometimes, I wish it wasn't.
  • Samantha: We all do.
  • (Stonewell): After much deliberation, I have decided to accept Mister Nervay's offer. True, the Artegerent Legion is not beloved by many other tribes, but what force interested to become the dominant force of anything ever gotten a kinder reputation? If my studies are to continue, I must be on the side of history most likely to be the one to make changes. As part of our agreement, I will need to travel with Mister Nervay for a time, and wait to study the obelisks until the Artegerant Legion have taken care of some smaller matters of foreign policy. Abit inconvenient to my researching hobbies, but clearly Nervay's legion are nomadic in nature, so I have to respect that it's something convinent to them. As such, I have left Stonewell Manor in Isabellene's charge. She will take excellent care of it, I am sure. Well then, onto new frontiers! Excelsior!
  • Clifton:... Okay, um... I'll just... Keep going and hope he doesn't get any worse from here.
  • Samantha: "I rather for us both to prepare for impact. I am regretful to say that this will only get darker."
  • (Stonewell): I admit, I have been rather coy with Mister Nervay when it comes to the true nature of the obelisks. As a military man, the obelisks would naturally be more useful to him if they were some sort of weapon, and I have made sure to allude to that possibility from time to time. It is not as though I am selling my gracious host a falsehood. After all, I have neither any proof that the obelisks could be weaponized, nor any evidence to the contrary. Their purpose is entirely theoretical at this stage, and if twisting those theories will convince Mister Nervay to march on the obelisks any sooner, then so be it.
  • Clifton:... At least he proves that brains can dominate brawns. And good to know Nervay's abit of a dumbass, tribalism aside
  • Samantha: I wouldn't underestimate Nervay just because of the planet's technological nature, Clifton. We may not know Nervay ourselves, but there could be more then meets the eye.
  • Clifton:... True.
  • (Stonewell): The Artegerant Legion is finally on the march, and not a moment too soon! Mister Nervay runs his tribe exceptionally well, but their compound is positively spaetan. I don't think I saw a single piece of decor anywhere! It certainly made me miss the comforts of Stonewell Manor, I'll say that. At any rate, we are apparently in pursuit of a barbaric "Animal Queen". According to the men, she feasts on the flesh of her enemies alongside her army of monsters. Oy, the further criticisms to the ways of life of tribal society I got from that statement alone. Mister Nervay is convinced that she is heading towards an obelisk, but I see no cause for alarm. No mere heathen could hope to uncover its secrets, and certainly not alone.
  • Samantha:... Animal... Queen... Sounds like they encountered a feral leader.
  • Clifton: Well, I just hope he keeps a level head and keeps thinking wise.
  • Samantha:... Looks like you spoke too soon, Clifton. Listen to this. He sounds jealous in this chapter.
  • (Stonewell): I am absolutely astonished! Shocked! Flabbergasted! Why in the world was Miss Runner investigating the obelisks at the side of such a savage woman, and without notifying me first? Was she intending to discover their secrets behind my back and keep them all to herself? The nerve! The audacity! And after I treated her with such respect and civility!
  • Clifton: ".....I'm already getting the feeling this was an easily avoidable misunderstanding that can easily be avoided by a simple conversation."
  • Samantha: "Well I'm afraid what follows that Stonewell wasn't able to be in a listening mood."
  • (Stonewell): Well, unfortunately for her, Sir Edwyn Stonewell is always one step ahead of his rivals. Thanks to my partnership with Mister Nervay, I can combine what scraps of knowledge she has on the obelisks with my own findings, and she'll be none the wiser. Why, since she is confined to a cage, I can keep my presence concealed from her altogether!
  • Clifton:... You've got to be kidding me. He actually accuses someone he respected, of stealing his research? I thought he was better than that.
  • Samantha: Dishonorable, I know, but fair's fair, I believe it's obvious at this point that Stonewell has already started to take a downward spiral thanks to Nervay.
  • Clifton: "Doesn't make ched-head less of a dick though!"
  • (Stonewell): Before arriving on this island, I would have dismissed the idea of a device instantly transporting a person from one location to another as complete and utter poppycock.... Or at least, one such at this godly degree. Yet, that appears exactly what the strange platforms beneath the obelisks are capable of doing. Astounding! Yes, yes, there was a Dracthysaur on the other side. I'm sure Mister Nervay and his men fought quite the battle, but discovering another slobbering beast is trivial in comparison. Imagine! One could go from one side of the globe to the other in the blink of an eye, and also in using little commands and energy to do so spontaneously, and I'll wager that is just the start of the obelisk's capabilities! I must learn more! I must!
  • Clifton: And now he's competing for the research of this race? Come ON! They're not the only ones who did this! HEILI'S MOM DID IT, AND HE KNEW HER!! How could he betray her daughter and disrespect her mother's grave like that?
  • Samantha: With intelligence comes pride, Clifton, you know that. Many of the best scientists had pride themselves.
  • (Stonewell): I am starting to become quite cross with Mister Nervay's impatience. I had barely any time at all to study the obelisk before we set out again, this time to that cave Miss Runner mentioned. I wonder, does he believe that she knows more about the obelisks than I do? Nonsense! Any fool could see that I am the superior scientist. Ugh, if only Nervay wasn't just some mindless savage playing conqueror! Besides, I am his official advisor while she is his prisoner. She isn't even privy to my presence. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to prove my scientific mettle. Whatever is in that cave, I shall be the one to discover its purpose. The mysteries of the obelisks are mine to uncover, not Miss Runner's or even Mister Nervay's. Mine.
  • Clifton: Oh for the love of Gods, are you serious?! You think this world revolves around you, you stuck-up moron?!
  • Samantha: Clifton!
  • Clifton: Right. (Deep breath)... I'm still hoping he gets wise again like he did before. That said, I am getting the idea the honeymoon with Nervay is starting to turn south.
  • Samantha: "Ahem, well, be cautious that him turning against Nervay may not necessarily be a good thing, and I suspect this book will only get darker."
  • (Stonewell): In all my life, I have never seen so magnificent a sight! Mister Nervay may be bemoaning the loss of his men, but I would sacrifice them a thousand times over to witness such majesty! I have never seen a night sky so beautiful. Somehow, this place looks down upon the world from on high, as though it stands upon the peak of divine mountains themselves! And my word, the exquisite metal this place is made out of, not to mention that bizarre creature! It reminds me of the material that lines the obelisks, yet somehow more... Alive. The very walls of this place seem to hum with power and possibility. I must find more information on this material. Perhaps one of these consoles will have something I could use. I am not familiar with the technology, but I am sure a scientist of my caliber could get something out of them with a little educated fiddling.
  • Clifton: Pheh, sure, I can see where that goes, because it looks like this journal is done.
  • Samantha:... Not quite. What he's done according to this journal is not serious enough to garner such a notoriety. He had to have done something worse. MUCH worse.

(Later...) Scorchar Desert

  • Clifton: Huh? Another journal from Stonewell?
  • Samantha: I suppose in that case, I was correct. What he did on the island couldn't have given him such a brash reputation.
  • Clifton:... Well, what COULD have?
  • Samantha: Let's find out. (They read the journal)
  • (Stonewell): Confound those confused contraptions! Despite my best efforts, I could make neither heads nor tails of the mysterious machine that brought me here. If only I still had that jittery bespectacled assistant of mine from all those years ago. What was his name? Gera? Gerdel? The one that loved tinkering with the devices we’d salvage from the arms of the island’s less fortunate inhabitants. Good lad. The inscriptions he found on the inside of those little trinkets were where I first saw the word 'Adytum' as I recall. That and some word that I could make out as 'Project'. What this 'Adytum Project' was about, I won't know for sure. Still, I miss the lad. Shame about the incident with the Multisaurs. If I still had his services, perhaps I’d never be in this gods-forsaken crater desert. Ah well. Stiff upper lip, Stonewell. Make the best of it.... I just hope Isabellene is doing well without me.
  • Clifton: Oh, trust me, she is. She cleaned up the mess Nervay left on the island and reestablished peace on it after the Artegerent Legion's collapse.... Though she didn't ONCE feel like talking about you. I don't know why.
  • Samantha: I suppose it's best left for US to figure out what has become of him.
  • (Stonewell): Right then! Now that I have found a shady spot where I can enjoy a brief respite from this desert’s dreadful heat, it’s high time that I set some goals for this expedition. If I wander about aimlessly then I’m sure to meet the same fate as poor Gerdel. First, I shall find a local tribe if for no other reason than to obtain a proper mount and supplies. Second, I simply must learn more about that strange metal that lined the walls of the sanctuary. Even with a cursory study I could tell that it possesses wondrous properties. But where could I find more of it?
  • Clifton:... He's REALLY fixated on this 'metal'.
  • Samantha:... Perhaps, too fixated.
  • (Stonewell): I must say nothing reminds a man of his own mortality quite like a desolate wasteland, even though the ones in this crater pale in comparison to the mess outside of it. As a strapping young lad, I could have survived alone in this desert for years! Why on one occasion, I fought off a triger with naught but an empty flash and my favorite pipe. With this makeshift spear, the beasts of this land would never have a prayer! Yet in my old age, I can feel this damnable sun sapping my strength with every minute I spend under its unforgiving gaze. Each day I cover less ground than the day before. I must find civilization soon, no matter how primitive. Without the right tools and supplies, I fear that this expedition will be incredibly short lived.
  • Clifton:... Hmm. Guess he still survives this regardless, so, FESS UP!!
  • Samantha: (Softly chuckles)
  • (Stonewell): Eureka! At last, I have found signs of sentient life! Though they don't seem to be ones I like, not in a racist sense, but in a sense of misplacement in a fitting environment. It's like putting a pretty bird in space. It just seems wrong. Regardless. This afternoon, I came across a fresh series of footprints, some from sentient beings and some from what I assume are large beasts of burden. I cannot be sure who made them or how civilized they may be, but neither can I afford to be too particular in my choice of saviors. Whoever they are, I must track them down immediately. As soon as I gather my strength I shall pursue my quarry with the utmost haste and vigor. The tale of the brilliant and impeccably groomed Sir Edwyn Stonewell shall not end this day!
  • Clifton: (Sighs) This guy just cannot get over himself.
  • (Stonewell): Salvation, thy name is Prophecy Black. After a proper meal and some time out of the sun, the makeshift fortress doesn't look half as grand as its name might imply. Yet when I first sighted its walls from across the dunes, it may as well have been El Doritos itself, so grateful was I to find it. Thus far, I have seen little of the inhabitants, but they seem a hospitable sort. I've been given food, shelter, and even a wet cloth to clean myself with. Quite generous of them, considering how scarce water is in these lands. Their clothing is a curiosity, however. Those robes seem more ceremonial than functional.
  • Clifton:... Seems he's come across a religious colony.
  • Samantha: I believe so.
  • (Stonewell): It seems that Prophecy Black is less a fortress and more an enclave or monastery. I suppose that would explain the name, now wouldn't it? Yes as strange as it may sound, the natives have created a primitive religion centered around the contained environment's obelisks. They pray three times a day, each time facing a different obelisk, and their robes bear a unique symbol: a three pointed star colored red, green and blue. The blue obelisk appears to receive particular reverence due to is proximity. As charmingly ignorant as their superstitions may be, it's far from the most savage religion I've encountered. Besides, Prophecy Black is in need of a doctor, and I am in need of supplies.
  • Samantha:... And we were right.
  • (Stonewell): I have discovered why Prophecy Black is so generous with their water. The well at the edge of the compound is built directly on top of what the locals call a 'water vein'. An endless supply water bubbles up from beneath the ground. It's existence is a minor miracle, though compared to what I saw in the starlit sanctuary, minor is the operative word. I suppose this environment must be for the same purpose as the Island and under the same control. Possibly from this 'Adytum Project' thing. What an extraordinary thought. I cannot fathom how such a thing is possible, but that remarkable metal must be at the heart of it. I am certain.
  • Samantha:... Hmm. He must be onto something here.
  • Clifton: Oh, no doubt about it. Maybe if we keep reading, we can get some coverage on how to stop Dr. SMD.
  • (Stonewell): Most of my work at the monastery's doctor has been trivial. Every now and then one of the guards gets injured by the local wildlife, but I usually find myself treating heat stroke and common illnesses. As such, I have had plenty of time to learn all the priests know about the obelisks. All told, they are stunningly ill-informed about the literal pillars of their faith. They are unaware that the obelisks are actually devices that can be activated, and needless to say they have never activated one themselves. They showed a flicker of understanding when I described the artifacts I found on the island, however. I shall have to keep digging.
  • Clifton:... Hmm. Keep going, ched-head.
  • (Stonewell): Unbelievable. Have these idol-worshiping ninnies replaced all their common sense with blind devotion? Have years of oppressive heat completely addled their brains? I was finally allowed to see the monastery's inner sanctum, and lo and behold, there they were. Sitting upon an altar before a flock of protesting primitives were these glowing artifacts, just like the ones I had found in the caverns beneath the island. Yet instead of making use of them or even studying them, these halfwits are praying to them! The true value of those artifacts is completely lost on these simpletons. Sacred relics, indeed!
  • Clifton:... Okay, I'd hate to agree with someone of his caliber, but he's right. That's such a waste.
  • Samantha: Well, it's not their fault their knowledge of the artifacts is hardly understood.
  • (Stonewell): It took time, but I finally pilfered enough supplies and tools to survive on my own. Loading them onto these bamal-like beasts of burden was laborious, but the real trial was absconding with the artifacts. There is always someone watching the inner sanctum, so I carefully studied the guard's shifts until I identified whose drink I had to spoil with my knockout serum. Even then I acted with great haste and guile, for my heist will surely be discovered when the priests convene for their morning prayers. Alas, they will be too late! Sir Edwyn Stonewell is always ahead of his foes, but not by a mere step. No, I am miles and miles beyond their reach!
  • Clifton: Okay, thus guy's stroking his own penis so hard, it's gotten sore.
  • Samantha: (Chuckles) Clearly.
  • (Stonewell): It has been several days since I left Prophecy Black, and I have seen no sign of pursuit. I am unsurprised. They probably assumed that I would make for the blue obelisk, as it was nearest. By setting out for the green obelisk instead, I already outwitted those simple minded zealots. As I said, miles ahead! Miles! With those fools out of the way, I can slow my pace and take some time to properly study these so-called 'sacred' relics of theirs. I am curious to see if the materials they are made of bear any similarity to the metal in the starlit sanctuary.
  • Clifton:... As rotten as he is, he sure has some intelligence to survive on a planet like this.
  • Samantha: People have to have those kind of smarts here, Cliff.
  • (Stonewell): The obelisk is reacting to the presence of the artifacts with even more intensity than I expected. Each obelisk on the island required eight artifacts to generate that sort of response, not three. In other words, I may not need to do any spelunking before summoning whatever terrifying beast this ARK has in store for me. Ah, the beast. Now that poses an entirely different conundrum. Even with my youth and my favorite pipe, I doubt that I could slay a monster such as that dracthon Mister Nervay fought. Not alone, anyway. I shall need to find a partner for this venture, but who?
  • Clifton: Oh, I'm sure you'll find SOMETHING. This desert seems MERCILESS! (He saw animals eat each other in a comical fashion over and over)... Unnaturally merciless.
  • (Stonewell): I have turned back north in hope of making contact with some of the natives. It is a risk, as I cannot be sure how many bumbling savages are under the sway of that ludicrous, obelisk-worshiping cult, but it is also the only region that I definitively know is occupied. I do not have much to offer in exchange for their aid, but I am sure that I can negotiate an alliance with at least one of this crater desert's tribes. I was at the center of the island's diplomatic disputes for years, after all. Why I am a seasoned, silver-tongued negotiator! Surely I can coax a partnership out of these primitive desert dwellers.
  • Clifton:... Yeah, as we've seen, you do it, TOO well.
  • (Stonewell): What terrible misfortune! My keen sense of direction finally led me to a local settlement, but as it happened, I was not the first party to visit it that day. That honor belonged to the Burner Clan, a band of raiders that were plundering it's storehouses and enslaving its surviving residents as I arrived. Naturally, the hoodlums fell upon me and stripped me of my valuables within minutes of my arrival. Ruffians! I managed to keep hold of my journal, but little else. This won't do, not at all! Then again, I was seeking out a tribe skilled in the art of violence. Perhaps I can turn this to my advantage.
  • Clifton: Well, yeah, you gotta start getting help someway.
  • (Stonewell): Curse these stubborn brutes! Despite a litany of polite, gentlemanly requests, they refuse to allow me to parlay with their leader. Surely any leader of men is not half the imbecile that these barbarians are. I am positive that we could come to some sort of... Damn this noise! It is impossible to concentrate with all this insufferable whingeing! Half of these prisoners won't stop moaning about one injury or another and the other half are in constant hysterics. Very well. Perhaps if I tend to some of the wounded, it will dim this distracting cacophony.
  • Samantha:... Well, even if it's for personal goals, he still has some humility.
  • Clifton: That's as far as I'm willing to give him at the moment.
  • (Stonewell): At last, I can hear myself think! The guards have moved me to a private cell, and while they have not divulged the reason for my transfer, I suspect that they took notice of my medical expertise. I caught them staring in my direction on several occasions as I worked. It seems that doctors are in high demand in these lands. I suppose that's no great surprise. The island was no different. No matter. While my skills in the realm of medicine are more in line with a field medic than a true physician, I shall continue to play the role as long as it serves me.
  • Clifton:... Okay... Scratch that. He's become a survivor, so survivors can grow a sense of selfishness. That kinda comes with the territory. When you have to survive, you have to think for yourself.
  • Samantha: Indeed. It's sad, but it's true.
  • (Stonewell): After days of travel, we finally arrived at the Burner Clan's compound, and while my former peers were shuffled to the slave pens, I stood before the clan's leader. I'd heard tales of the once-great Kainic Empires, thought I had never traveled to their lands. By all appearances, Tempus is cut from the same cloth as their fabled Kaines. He was at once imperious and casual, questioning me with impatience from a throne of hide and bone. Naturally, he was impressed by my intellect and gentlemanly demeanor. Granted he did not say so aloud, but I was escorted to a small, private chamber instead of a cell. Surely that says as much.
  • Clifton:... Though, his intelligence is astounding, as is his silver tongue. Don't get me wrong, I still despise his acts. But he at least knows how to survive and sway others to do his bidding.
  • Samantha: It's still not prudent to admire his manipulative ways. I can see Miria doing something like that.
  • Clifton: (Chuckles) So true. But that's only because, as our leader, she wants us to learn from others' strategies.
  • Samantha: Indeed.
  • (Stonewell): I had been pondering why Tempus required the services of a doctor. He seemed to be in excellent health and I had seen no patients since I arrived. Well now I shall ponder no longer. Timur has a wife, and she's with child. I suppose that even bloodthirsty raiders can fall in love, or at the very least, desire a family. At least it's not incestuous like an ancient primitive times which was merely a biologically-damaging attempt to expand families, instead of, you know, parents just having more children as it should be. The whole affair would be rather quaint were I not expected to care for the woman and deliver the child. Should either the child or the woman die during the birth, I fear that I will follow them in short order.
  • Clifton:... Wow.
  • Samantha: Wow indeed.
  • (Stonewell): Nasiri is quite different from her husband. She is a timid little flower of a woman, or rather, she would be if she were not many months pregnant. I am still undecided as to whether my timing is impeccable or unfortunate. A few weeks from now, Tempus may have had no need of a doctor, but as it stands I have been thrust into an unfamiliar scenario with scant time to prepare. Despite my unpleasant circumstances, this whole affair is rather intriguing. I never considered the possibility of new generations being born on these contained environments for this 'Adytum Project', yet clearly it was inevitable. Like any common animal, sentient beings, especially Creijuds like Tempus and Nasiri have the urge to procreate. How else could the species endure?
  • Clifton: Eh, life finds ways. Especially alien life. (He and Samantha chuckled)
  • (Stonewell): Stonewell, old bean, you've done it again! Both mother and child made it through, Tempus is a proud father, and your head is still attached to its shoulders. Why I was even a guest of honor at Tempus's celebratory feast! I cannot say I enjoyed the blood sport that serves as the Burners' entertainment, but the food was delectable. I was also sure to seize upon Tempus's momentary goodwill by filling his ears with whispers of obelisks, artifacts and the untold power they grant to mortal men. It may take time for those thoughts to turn to action, but with constant care, I may yet turn him into my unwitting general.
  • Clifton:... Well, took a lot of placenta, but he got his ears at least. The things he had to do to get that far.
  • (Stonewell): The silver tongue of Sir Edwyn Stonewell has prevailed once again! After spending far too long watching the Burners enslave and decimate hapless caravans and villages, I have convinced Tempus to test his might against the guardian of the obelisk, which he had been anxious to do. I admit, I was somewhat anxious too. Tempus said that the guardian was a Mantilovia, a giant synapsid cauter creature that is rare on most worlds, with poisonous claws and teeth, small horns, and a lizard tail with poisonous spines that it can launch at it's prey. Tempus may not be the commander that Mister Nervay was, and should he fall, I shall fall with him. Yet I have little choice, and the rewards of success are worth the risk. The obelisks, the starlit sanctuary and that precious ore shall be the foundation of my legacy as a scientist, gentleman and explorer. I am sure of it.
  • Clifton:... A Mantilovia?... Wow.
  • Samantha: Indeed they are rare. I never thought I'd even see one myself.
  • Clifton: Not many do.
  • (Stonewell): I found it! I really found it! Raw, untainted samples of that same, mysterious ore from the sanctuary! That fearsome beast must have been guarding it. Thank the heavens for Tempus and his berserk savagery! When he leapt from the back of his Dracthysaur, I thought he was surely doomed, but the madman actually managed to grab hold of that monster's horns and turn its eyes into a bloody mess. I have never seen such brutally effective barbarism. Many of his band did not survive the encounter of course, but that was to be expected. Progress requires sacrifice, and whether those brutes knew it or not, their deaths have helped sentientkind leap into the future.
  • Clifton:... Oh boy. That was rough.
  • (Stonewell): This ore is simply extraordinary! It is as warm to the touch as skin, even during these cold desert nights, and it pulses as though it has its own heartbeat.... And when I touched it... It was like the metal itself was part of me. Extraordinary! It is at once light and more sturdy than any natural material I have encountered. The uses one could find for such a substance. I shall have to name it at some point. What would do? Edwynium? Stonewellium? A dilemma for another time. For now I have more pressing matters. Tempus and his Burner savages have played their part, and I cannot remain in their custody. It is time for the great warrior chief to receive his just reward.
  • Clifton:... He's not...
  • Samantha: Oh he definitely is.
  • (Stonewell): Alas, poor Tempus. He was so focused on celebrating his victory over one foe, that he never saw his greatest threat. Now he lies beneath the severed and stuffed head of the beast he vanquished, eyes bulging and blood seeping from his open mouth. At least, that is how I imagine him. I did not stay to admire my handiwork. As soon as the first group of Burner warriors succumbed to their poisoned feast, I stole away into the night, Stonewellium and artifacts in tow. All of them are dead... Curiously I couldn't find Tempus' wife and child. Not that they were truly a threat anyway.... Or at least not until they see what has become of their father/husband. But serves those ruffians right, I say! They never did treat me with the propriety that a gentleman and scholar of my caliber deserves. This desert is better off without them. I just hope I can get out of dodge before Nasiri finds me for her revenge.
  • Clifton:... Oh, oh, I thought this blowhard was a REAL piece of work before, BUT THIS?!
  • Samantha:... Well, those Burners looked like they'd be potentially as dangerous as Nervay, so, I suppose he did them some good. At least his wife and child are still alive. At this point, his son is grown up and likely doing great things. If you ask me, Stonewell did them a favor. His son deserved a better life than just being a rotten clan murderer.
  • Clifton:... Yeah, you're probably right, but still, that was heartless.
  • (Stonewell): As my withdrawal from the Burners' camp demanded haste, I did not have the time to double-check my supplies. It appears that I shall have to do some hunting. No matter! I may not be as spry as I was when felled a charging Monacosaur on the outside wastes of the planet, but with all the small armory I managed to abscond with, I can surely manage. I had planned on trading those weapons for information as soon as I encountered a peaceful tribe, but I can spare a few rounds of ammunition.
  • Clifton:... (Sighs) When does he even get to the point where he becomes as infamous as he is today, because what he did to the Burners shouldn't even come close to such.
  • Samantha: Be patient.
  • (Stonewell): Despite my limited equipment, I have managed to run some initial tests on the Stonewellium. Based on my observations, a typical forge may not be enough to smelt a sample of Stonewellium ore into any sort of usable ingot. I suspect that it has extremely strong metallic bonds and therefore a much higher melting point than any conventional metallic element. Also... Seemed to me like it had signs of feeling pain the moment I touched it. It wasn't just that the heat burned me... It was like it shared it's pain with me. Even the worst-degree burns didn't offer such lasting pain. I must find a proper base of operations where I can run more extensive experiments. I mustn't be overeager, however. I have limited samples and... Drat! I shall have to ruminate on this later. A sandstorm may be brewing and I have no desire to be caught in it.
  • Clifton:... This man can't catch a break.
  • Samantha: Not many do on this planet, my love.
  • (Stonewell): Confounded weather! Not only did that sandstorm separate me from my steed, but when it cleared I was beset upon by none other than the traitorous Miss Runner herself! Oh, she put on quite the act, spouting all sorts of nonsense about how good it was to see me. Rubbish! I see right through her ruse. I am certain that she is after my Stonewellium. The only reason she has not simply looted it from my corpse is that she requires my superior intellect to understand it. Well two can play this game, Miss Runner! I can fill the role of the benign old scientist for a time, but I shall not be betrayed again!
  • Clifton:... He's STILL under the impression she plans to steal from him?!
  • Samantha: (Sighs) Clifton?
  • Clifton: Okay, just forget about it, at this point, he's never going to-
  • Samantha: "Look, I get it, you're annoyed by his accusations onto Heli. But to be fair, it's not like he known Heli for years and WELL beyond the planet. He literally met her in a rog-eat-rod planet where it's everyone for themselves."
  • Clifton: "Okay, I can get that he assumed that Heli's being an utter bitch here, but, A SIMPLE CONVERSATION WOULD CLEAR ALL THAT UP?!"
  • (Stonewell): I am glad that I possessed the foresight to hide my presence from Miss Runner after her capture on the island. She clearly believes that I never learned of her betrayal. By cunningly taking advantage of this fact, I have managed to completely deceive the deceiver! The grim old Invervisaur ghoul she travels with is another matter. I often catch her glaring in my direction, her eyes sharp and mistrusting. If I could, I would deal with her as I dealt with Tempus, but I fear she is far too observant. For now I must maintain my deception as best I can.
  • Clifton:... Looks like this time, he's got eyes all over him.... Not literally-
  • Samantha: I know figurative language when I hear it, Clifton, I'm not a fool.
  • (Stonewell): I may have given Miss Runner too much credit. Although I carelessly allowed her to catch sight of my Stonewellium ore samples, she was more interested in the artifact I possess. I should have realized this sooner. Miss Runner's specialty is biology. She would not recognize the unique properties of Stonewellium if they hit her square in the forehead... Unless she saw that it curiously shared the behavior of a living organism. Luckily, I was sure to keep her from learning that. That fact has eased some of my tension. Even if Miss Runner seeks to take advantage of my genius, she is focusing on the wrong discoveries. So long as I am careful in my studies of Stonewellium, I shall remain miles ahead of her.
  • Samantha:... Last page.
  • (Stonewell): I cannot wait to be rid of that glowering menace of a woman, this so-called 'Rayburn Skyrider'... And apparently her thought-to-be-dead caveman boyfriend. I suspect the feeling is mutual. She has offered little in the way of farewells while seeing us to the entrance to the starlit sanctuary. She has admonished me for keeping spoils of more Stonewellium from the monster that I thought was the one Tempus killed but was still alive, when it was actually its spawn. The young Mantilovia chased us into the crater desert. When Rav learns that it wants me and my Stonewellium, even at the behest of my insistence that it's mine, finders are keepers after all, she just stole ALL of it from me and returned it to the monster. But it still wanted us all after what I had done to its mother. If it wasn't for that caveman, we'd all be dead. She wasted my precious Stonewellium! I will NEVER forgive her for such a wasted effort. Things will be much easier once Miss Runner and I have parted ways with the desert witch and the eccentric caveman, I suspect. Miss Runner is thoroughly oblivious to both the wonders of Stonewellium and my knowledge of her underhanded scheming back on the island as she scolded me for my so-called 'arrogance' as she put it, and said that the metal must've 'gotten to my head'. Such folly accusations. I know what I am doing. But she can continue to fiddle with trinkets and relics. I may even assist her if it suits me. Meanwhile, I shall unlock the secrets of the most extraordinary metal in the UUniverses right under her nose!
  • Clifton:... My God!... He actually did ALL of that?!
  • Samantha: (Sighs) I can almost feel your anger for him, Cliff.
  • Clifton: Well, this doesn't seem to be his worst. He says he has another journal here.
  • Samantha:... I believe we may have the final nail in the coffin for how far he goes with this. What he just stated in his final note is a telltale sign that he'll go further than ever where he goes next.

(Later...) Lapse Wastes

  • Clifton:... Seems like SUCH a coincidence we keep finding Stonewell's journals.
  • Samantha: (She sees the back tainted with molten enhancelement)... And I was correct. We may have just found his final journal.
  • Clifton: Great. Now we can FINALLY find out what makes him so infamous. (They read)
  • (Stonewell): I fear that even with the unwitting aid of Miss Runner, I still cannot completely control the machines in the starlit sanctuary. I believe they sent us to the correct environment, but I was unable to control precisely where we arrived on it. Alas, that means the location I saw in the sanctuary is beyond my reach for the time being, along with the molten Stonewellium I saw there. Confound it all! Naturally, I cannot confirm that molten substance was indeed Stonewellium until I have inspected it with my own eyes, but it simply must be! It looked exactly like my samples did when I attempted to melt them down. But this time, it was not in pain. It was doing so naturally, which means it shares a hybrid behavior of both organic life and non-organic matter. Imagine! An entire cavern of the most potent metal ever conceived! The wonders I could create. I could just see the smug faces on my parents when I finally take credit for what THEY tried to steal from me.
  • Clifton:... Doing this to spite his own parents that he drugged. What a low point, even for him.
  • (Stonewell): While the molten Stonewellium remains elusive, this underground forest has proven quite illuminating, both figuratively and literally. Many of this cavern's species are bioluminescent, so out of curiosity, I dissected several of the glowing insects that are common here. After further study, I have concluded that the luminescent fluid found in their posteriors carries something akin to a bioelectric charge. However I cannot determine how it is generated, and with no place to store it, said charge fades quickly. Curious, curious indeed! What could be the cause of this? With no sunlight to provide the forest with energy, perhaps this charge comes from the soil?
  • Samantha: Well, I'm sure he'll figure by the end that it is the work of this 'Stonewellium'. Or as it's called, ENHANCELEMENT!... Oh wait, never mind, he figures that out on the next page. (Clifton chuckled)
  • (Stonewell): Yes, yes of course! The Stonewellium is the cause! If there are truly molten pools of Stonewellium somewhere in these caverns, then Stonewellium minerals would have spread throughout the soil over time, allowing its wondrous properties to affect nearby flora and fauna. Even if it is not the direct source of the charge found in this forest's bioluminescent wildlife, it may have incited incremental changes in those species over several generations, which then led to their development of an internal charge. How invigorating! I could be standing in the middle of an entire ecosystem that has been absorbing the effects of Stonewellium for generations, and all of its secrets are mine for the taking. Magnificent!
  • Samantha:... Someone like him certainly does not deserve such recognition. He does not realize that this substance drove the Scyrians themselves mad from mix-matched genetics.
  • Clifton: Well, this place DOES resemble the jungles of Permiana Major. THAT planet has become so infused with enhancelement, it has become it's lifeforce. It's blood. It's very essence.
  • Samantha: I know, I know. That's because of the substance's organic behavior. Such a substance could give planets their own self-awareness and their own inner life.
  • Clifton: Exactly!
  • (Stonewell): I must admit, I am glad that I coerced Miss Runner into accompanying me. Her scientific mind may be far below my own, but she can fire a rifle proficiently enough. I suppose that is no surprise. She is a colonial, after all, and she never has been terribly ladylike. I hadn't noticed what a foul mouth she has, either. Dreadful! However, despite her past deceptions and uncouth vulgarity, I must tolerate her presence for now. The predators here are not to be trifled with. Of course, in my youth, I could have grappled them into submission. Why, I would simply pin their wings behind their backs and drive them to the ground. Yes, I'd give them a truly thorough thrashing! Ah, to be young again.
  • Clifton: (Sighs)
  • (Stonewell): Miss Runner I can tolerate for now, but I cannot abide by this barbarian! Meya, was she? I cannot fathom how she even lives, much less how she ended up here! A primitive mind like hers could never have operated the contraptions in the starlit sanctuary. Yet here she stands, and worst of all, she wears a suit of Stonewellium armor! The very thing I seek has already been claimed by some savage, sword wielding tart! It's outrageous! Such a beautiful product of science should not be sullied by her bloodstained hands. No, Stonewell. You must be calm. If she senses hostility, she will surely kill you on the spot. Yes, for now I must bide my time and learn what I can. Whoever constructed this armor, I must find them.
  • Clifton: (Sighs harder)
  • (Stonewell): Astounding! That remarkable armor was but the tip of the iceberg. The barbarian woman Meya has escorted us to the home of her new masters, and I can take nary a step without finding some wondrous new piece of technology, much of it relying on the power of Stonewellium. Though I am upset that I could not find modern use of it myself, I could at least take it further in ways even they could not process. The casual manner in which they use and refer to these wonders leads me to believe that while they are deeply familiar with the marvelous metal, they may not grasp the depths of its potential. Yes, Stonewell, this was well worth tolerating Miss Runner and her savage companion. I shall learn what these beings know, and take it many steps further.
  • Clifton: (Shrugs hard)
  • Samantha: Cliff!
  • Clifton: I'M TRYING!!
  • (Stonewell): The village has a vast supply of Stonewellium, far more than the paltry samples that desert witch stole from me. In this quantity, I can almost hear it singing to me as I study it. It pulses with more nervous-system-like energy at such an entrancing rhythm that it's hard to tear my eyes away from it. The villagers here refer to it as "enhancelement." What a rubbish name. A pun on words is no name for this wondrous substance. I will still call it Stonewellium, as it deserves a better name. I have also been learning what they know of the "charge" that is common in this place, which I made note of earlier. Their own studies confirm my suspicions that it is the result of the Stonewellium that permeates the caverns, and they call it 'glowcharge'. That makes it worth researching.
  • Clifton:... I bet he won't last in his normal self by the end of this.
  • Samantha: Me too. His own ambition has driven him past lines he shouldn't cross.
  • (Stonewell): Obtaining detailed information from these villagers is like drawing blood from a stone! The Skorner, Diana, which I'm surprised hasn't picked a fight with Heili, her race's rival race, has been pleasant enough in answering my queries, but she is no scientist. Her naivete makes that quite evident. I simply must convince these men to place me onto one of their research teams. That's where I'll really gain some ground. Unfortunately, they seem rather skeptical of my scientific prowess. Bah! Ridiculous! I don't care what space territory they hail from, I am Sir Edwen Stonewell! A mind like my own only comes once a millennium. It should be their honor to have me amongst their ranks.
  • Clifton: Oy! Like I said, he won't last with his sanity intact.
  • (Stonewell): The nerve of these people! I have never seen such arrogance and disrespect directed towards a worthy colleague! I finally convinced Dinia to let me partake in the village's research and experiments, and I have been treated like an ignoramus. These so-called scientists dare to talk down to me? They dare to underestimate me? Fools, the lot of them! Well, I daresay I don't need them. Now that I have access to their facilities and supplies, I can research glowcharge and Stonewellium just fine without their aid. Soon enough, my knowledge shall surpass their own, then we shall see who is primitive.
  • Clifton:... I'm not even going to say anything anymore. It's pretty much tapped.
  • (Stonewell): Confound it all! Why am I progressing so slowly? These scientists are no more intelligent than I, yet they make continual progress while my own research continues to stagnate. It's just a matter of experience, that's all it is. They are more familiar with their tools and they have more information at their disposal. Were I in their shoes, I would have finished that ridiculous project of theirs months ago! I must work harder to account for my handicap. I shall eat and sleep in the lab, and allow for no distractions, not until my so called peers have learned to respect the name of Sir Edwyn Stonewell.
  • Samantha:... I can see such arrogance in him that he is denying.
  • (Stonewell): At last, success! I have finally been able to convert this "glowcharge" into proper electricity. Subsequently, I used it to create not only a glowcharge battery, but a lantern as well. It was a simple matter, really. It's baffling that these supposed scientists haven't managed it already. Based on their surprise when I showed them my new invention, my earlier supposition was correct: they've barely scratched the surface of glowcharge and Stonewellium's full potential. Soon enough, I'll have surpassed their understanding of both. Yet if they expect me to share the full fruits of my research with them, they are sadly mistaken. Those who doubt the genius of Sir Edwyn Stonewell shall never reap its rewards!
  • Samantha:... Such egomaniacal foolishness.
  • (Stonewell): I have at last persuaded Dinia to show me this grand project those bumbling scientists are working so hard on. I am hardly impressed. If I had to guess, I would say that this 'Escape Project' is merely aping the transporter platforms present at the base of every obelisk, and crudely at that. Everyone is quite excited about it, the small minded simpletons. Why are they so eager to leave this place, where the impossible is within reach? They speak of "escaping" as though this were some kind of prison, when in reality, it is a land full of unparalleled promise and possibility.
  • Samantha: Well, it's a prison in anyone's definition. The wildlife here is not very hospitable. Especially the marine worms we barely escaped getting here.
  • (Stonewell): Thank goodness this Dinia woman is so agreeable. She seems to view me as her personal responsibility, and as a result, she has served my whims rather well. All I need do is assume the guise of a kindly, curious old man and I can persuade her to see to my every need. I've nearly convinced her to escort me to the lower caverns, where molten Stonewellium is said to flow in abundance. Those caverns were the reason I came here in the first place, and I'm certain an excursion into their depths would yield invaluable insight. I need only push and prod just a bit more.
  • Samantha:... Clifton, at this point, I'm seeing that his manipulation isn't just for his survival anymore.
  • Clifton: Glad you finally said it.
  • (Stonewell): Once I upgraded my Glowcharge Lantern prototype to be vastly more portable and efficient, the village council could ignore my petitions no longer. I shall be accompanying an expedition to the lower caverns posthaste! At last, I shall be able to observe Stonewellium in its rawest, most natural state! Marvelous! I can hardly contain my excitement, though I must make an effort to. The barbarian woman has been glowering at me for days. I suspect if she could, she would watch my every move, and probably forbid Dinia from speaking to me. Fortunately, Miss Runner has been distracting her with trivialities, but I must still be cautious. That savage will turn to violence on a whim, and I must not provoke her.
  • Samantha:... At least someone doesn't trust him. Meya seems to have the right instinct.
  • (Stonewell): Thankfully, it seems I shall get a reprieve from all those nasty glares I've been receiving. Miss Runner has taken her pet barbarian with her on that fool's errand she's running to the obelisk. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say! I didn't bother to learn all the details of Miss Runner's mission, but it seems clear to me now that the obelisks are a waste to my endeavors now. It is the Stonewellium that matters now, so if she and her violent little lackey want to play explorer, so be it. In the meantime, I shall journey into the heart of these caverns to conduct real science, and make real progress. Excelsior!
  • Clifton: Good luck with that.

Who Is Meya Liu?Edit

Chinese-Esque Forest

  • Marcilene:... Hmmm... How interesting.
  • Cloakblade: What have you got, Marci?
  • Serpentos: Yeah, what's up?
  • Marcilene:... I found some... Peculiar scrolls in this chest that belongs to some... Animal Queen by the name of... Meya Liu. (Opens them and sees the poetic pinyin on them as well as the Chinese-themed pictures on them)... And she's written her adventures rather poetically.
  • Serpentos: A poet warrior? Rather conventional, but interesting.
  • Marcilene: Actually, it's got a poetic feel.
  • Cloakblade:... It's a Sauran language. My learning of that language is, still sparse.
  • Marcilene: Allow me. There are plenty of them on Zo. I believe I can translate.
  • (Meya): Where am I? How did I arrive? I have asked these questions many times since I awoke on this foreign shore, but I must stop. They do not matter. Their answers will not save me, but only give context that neither aides nor hinder my situation, so I will focus on a different question: how can I survive? This question always has an answer, though it is ever-changing, and it has helped me find resolve in moments of uncertainty or fear. Just days ago, I never thought I'd fear again. I thought my fear died with the things I have done for my hometown. Yet when I heard that giant roar of a monster and my retreat got me briefly drowned and washed onto the shores of this island, I know fear is exactly what I feel.
  • Cloakblade:... Interesting.
  • Serpentos: If kinda overly dramatic. Are we sure this is a real person's journal and that it's not a fictional read?
  • Marcilene: Well it lacks an author's name, so, this is someone's private journal, albeit, an artsy-fartsy one.
  • (Meya): I am armed and clothed now, though crudely. My stone spearhead makes me long for my village's weaponsmith, even wish for even the most low-level lazer pistol in the weapon market, but it serves. I use it to hunt the slow, fat birds that wander the coast. I do not know how such creatures survive here at all, but I am grateful for the meat they provide. Also grateful that they happened to be in good health, and bore little understanding that I was a danger to them, but I suspect this may change soon given the reaction of my first kills' flock. I save my arrows for the more dangerous creatures, like the dinosaurs with ears like fans, whose spit burns the things it touches. No, not just the creatures. They are not the only danger. Yesterday, I found footprints in the sand that were not my own. I am not alone.
  • Marcilene:... Well, she's an experienced survivor and fighter, at least.
  • Serpentos: "Yeah I doubt this would even exist if she was incompetent with nature survival."
  • (Meya): Defending my hometown during criminals taught me more in months than I learned in all the years before it. Among those lessons, men will always underestimate women in battle, pertain this to sexism or just immature false expectations if you would please.
  • Serpentos: "I would believe both, honestly."
  • (Meya): The other lesson: sentient beings, no matter what shape or size, can be crueler than any animal.
  • Serpentos: "But, how can animals be cruel if they're unsentient?"
  • Maricilene: "It's mainly meant to be artistic, Serp. He's basically an artsy way of saying "People Suck"."
  • (Meya): Both applied today. The footprints I found were not from one man, but three. All were a Haelic, an Augean, and a Simobe. Their eyes changed when they saw me, like rolves discovering a kneep. They were wrong. They were merely mutts desperate for an easy target but of poor judgment. I was the rolf. Two died to arrows after ignoring my warnings. The last to my spear. But before any reader besieges me as a monster for doing this, I didn't do this without second thought. I know perhaps these men had families or loved ones wherever they came from and that any action they would've done to me was for survival's sake. But consider this, they failed to take a warning seriously. They were also impudent. The words they say and the intentions they had, I rather not repeat in this book. Suffice to say, I feel no loss of conscience of what I assume to be folks that have long embraced survival and deemed me a threat as I did them. A pity that I was forced to confirm it cause of their own bad choice. I left their bodies out in the wild. I cannot stay here. The beaches are too open. To survive, I must brave the jungle.
  • Serpentos:... Brutal.
  • Marcilene: Unfortunately, that's the law of being out in the wild. It's eat or be eaten, and kill or be killed. As sentient animals, with the exception of Serpentos, we should know that.
  • (Meya): Today, I scored a great victory. As the sunsets, I happened upon a small village on a bluff. Unfortunately, it was besieged by a man who rode a raptor and wielded a torch. I know not of his reasons, perhaps the village leader did something malevolent and this rider decided personal vengeance. But even if so, the innocents being made to suffer this attack is dramatically overkill just to punish one ungrateful action. It would have been safer to retreat, but I could not ignore the bodies. Regardless of the rider's reasoning, this was a slaughter. Surprise can be a warrior's most powerful weapon, and I wielded it effectively. My first arrow found the raptor's throat, and many more pierced the man's back once he tumbled from the saddle. He never saw his vanquisher. In hindsight, I should have spared the beast. A mount would be welcome.
  • Serpentos:... (Sighs)... She was starting out, I can't blame her for this murder.
  • Marcilene: When it comes to survival, murder laws are nonexistent.
  • Cloakblade: "And to be fair, she did acknowledge that the rider may had a reason for what he did, but we have to consider that his reasons were outweighed by the people he was hurting for what is merely the actions of one or two individuals.
  • (Meya): The surviving villagers let me claim the raptor rider's armor and weapons, and gave me shelter for the night. To my surprise, I understood them. Their mouths moved strangely, but in my ears I heard the language of my home. They say it is the work of some strange devices internally wired into them. I do not understand, but they had no reason to lie, so, I'll humor this strange truth for now. That night, I dreamt of a fight between my old teacher Guoylu, lifting the siege on his village in a single, gallant charge. But I was Guoylu. Yet when I woke, I was just Meya Liu, and the villagers were gone. I am a stranger to them, but my heart feels heavier for their loss. I must carry on alone.
  • Marcilene:... She must have been through a lot back home.
  • (Meya): The villagers had made taming beasts sound simple, but my first attempt was nearly my last. My prey was a raptor just like the raider's steed, but this one was strong. Even as my toxin-laced arrows knocked him out, he was able to make one final lunge for my arm. He nearly took it. Carefully, I fed him scraps of meat as he rested, and when he finally woke, I kept my weapon trained on him. Only when I was sure that he was docile did I notice his appearance, all blackish-green, save his glittering shins and feet. Right then, I named him Suave, and while I do not believe in fate, I felt that this beast would carry me home.
  • Serpentos: Aww, she made a friend.
  • Cloakblade: A rather strong one at that, too. Also rather sour at first given the near loss of an arm.
  • (Meya): The raptors are improving. They know to follow Suave, and Suave knows to listen to me. These raptors were actually Suave's pack, and the alpha, which I have nicknamed Injured-Hand, had to take another beating when Suave being tamed by someone with my skill threatened his leadership. But they're still inexperienced. Beasts without riders cannot maintain a formation, but they at least run close together. In time, they have even learned how to attack and retreat at my signal during our hunts on the plains. Together, Suave and his five pack members, including Injured-Hand, are like a light cavalry unit, and I am their commander. Unfortunately, they are all I really have. I am not much of a craftsman, and have few possessions. Not everyone here is like me, though. There may be some who can craft but cannot fight. Perhaps we could trade.
  • Serpentos: And she even tamed his family.
  • Cloakblade: How intriguing. She's more experienced in survival than I thought.
  • Marcilene: "Though how did those raptors know to find him?"
  • Serpentos: "I'm sure if we were paired with an animal expert, they say something like smells and scents and whatnot."
  • (Meya): The defense went spectacularly. Like many tribes, The Red Claws relied entirely on brute force. They thought only of charging in with their beasts and their guns, with no regard for their surroundings. They never expected a sortie, much less one that came from their exposed flank. Our victory was so complete that my benefactors not only rewarded me with the weapons and supplies they promised, but extra pack animals to carry them. With each battle, my skills improve and my ranks swell, if only with beasts. I don't mind that. The people that I care about are back home. Until I return with the right stories to tell, Suave is enough company.
  • Cloakblade:... And she grew in animal companions.
  • Seprentos: "Yeah I am starting to see where the animal queen idea came from."
  • (Meya): I was told this escort mission would be dangerous, but I had not expected to fight a legitimate army. Fortunately, I was riding ahead of the main column and spotted them first. After signaling for the convoy to change course, I harassed the enemy from their flanks to draw their attention, then retreated in a different direction. Even that cost me. Many of Suave's brothers were injured and some were killed, though ironically, Injured-Hand, the one with a permanent injury, survived with little scratches. Not that he could avoid any scratch. Previously, my enemies here fought wildly or scattered when attacked, but these men had discipline. They would've done much worse. The leader of the convoy was very grateful. Apparently, few survive an encounter with this "Artegerent Legion". I should be wary of them in the future.
  • Serpentos: Even an ARMY is no match for her! Amazing.
  • (Meya): Am I a mercenary now? I had not given it much thought until I was actually called one. I don't like the title. Mercenaries fight for riches, but I'm just fighting for what I need to survive. That's different, isn't it? When I fought back home, I knew who and what I was fighting for. I knew who my enemies were. Here I cannot tell. I am trying to be honorable by defending people and not attacking them, but how can I be certain? I cannot dwell on it. To survive, I must fight on. To complete my crusade, I must fight on.
  • Serpentos:... Hmm. Crusade? I suppose she was on the island for a greater purpose.
  • Marcilene: Most likely.
  • (Meya): I've started to tame larger creatures. The speed of my light cavalry was beneficial, but I realized that it was not enough. A hundred swift strikes mean nothing if there is no strength behind them. To survive enemies like the Artegerent Legion, I must be able to strike with power. I began with the ones that look like larger raptors, but with horns on their foreheads, or 'Taurotyrannus' as they're called. I was never one for dinosaur biology. But these tauros, they balance strength and speed well, and will serve well as the core of my forces. When I have enough tauros, I will add some of the giants. Maybe then I'll finally have the strength to find my place on this inhospitable planet.
  • Marcilene:... And she's growing further with the predators.
  • Serpentos: Hooray for her.
  • (Meya): When I tried to leave the island I was stranded on, I realized I am living on no ordinary island. It was a cursed island. I managed to tame a great spytorannus and a dominoraptor, I left to find a way off of this treacherous island to continue my outside journey, but I soon found myself traveling in circles. Worse still, I'm told that a magical barrier prevents ships from sailing too far from the shore, and birds from flying too high to leave the island. It seems that this barrier allows things in, but never out. It was never a matter of strength. There is no path home at all. Suave seems to sense my unease. These days, I often wake to find him nestled beside me. At least I am not trapped here alone.
  • Serpentos:... Aw.
  • Marcilene: Well someone's become a sweetheart all of a sudden.
  • Serpentos: Just keep translating.
  • (Meya): I laughed for the first time in weeks today. A man from a small tribe of fishermen sought to hire me, but he didn't call me by my name. He called me, the "Animal Queen". I could not keep a straight face. But I suppose I understand the title. Since my compromised expedition and failure to get off the island, I have staked out a small swath of land to live on more permanently, and the locals know it as my pack's hunting ground. Still, I'm hardly a queen. My "castle" is little more than a shack. But at the same time..... I'd rather be called a queen than a mercenary though, so I may as well embrace it.
  • Cloakblade:... At least she has a sense of humor.
  • (Meya): I wonder what my adopted father would think of me now. Would he be proud of me when I march off into a dangerous battle like this? This wasn't like the battles back home. A hero's battle. This was a bigger battle than he had seen his entire life, and he was concerned when I left. I know my original father, who died to Boss Iilong when I was just 2, wanted a son. That's why he sought to train me in secret before that awful tragedy. Luckily his friend, the great Master Guoylu, fulfilled that wish in his absence. Would either father accept an Animal Queen instead? Mother certainly wouldn't approve if she was alive either. The other villagers were too desperate to care about my gender when I joined the fight against Iilong's syndicate, but mother wanted different things from me. That's one of the things I remembered at such an early age. I bet she wouldn't even look at me now. Should I mind? Those were Meya Liu's parents, from Meya Liu's life. MY life. And sometimes I wonder if that life was even real. Maybe I was always a beast, and never a woman. Still, I had another role-model as a father. Even the great Master Guoylu feared for my safety when I left. He'd certainly be surprised I have a family of unsentient animals. After all, I had a pet who died in my final battle against Iilong. Five small multisaurs whom I adopted when I was living briefly as a street vrat in a time I thought Guoylu was dead. They died for me, and I'll always be grateful for their sacrifice. Now their legacy lives on in Suave and my army of animals. I am the Animal Queen, and I shall live up to that title.
  • Cloakblade:... And great spirit to boot.
  • (Meya): I have finally found a beast that I cannot command. No, to call him a beast is not enough. He is a demon. But I needed a more clever name than just 'Demon' or 'Demon King', or something. People have heard stories about this creature, but didn't have a name for it. It was called a Massosaurus, and it was a species hardly documented as it is extremely rare, and for good reason. They can camouflage themselves with limited color-change, they can mimic other animal sounds, and most importantly, their testosterone and adrenaline levels are through the roof. I met this mighty monster when I was stalking a pair of ceroraptors, waiting for an opportunity to bring them into my pack, when he tore through the treeline to steal their kill. He dwarfed even the tyrannuses in size, and in fury he surely has no equal in this world. When his foes bit at him, his eyes glowed with hatred and he struck with renewed vigor. I have never seen such terror. Even I dare not challenge this creature. Such fury was unnatural... Fury. That what I shall call him. Fury.
  • Cloakblade:... Just goes to show that not all creatures can be curbed.
  • Serpentos: "Ya know, if Veta was here, she'd be diffidently wanting to publicize this book into an action story."
  • Marcilene: "Well that's isn't particularly respectful to someone's private thoughts."
  • Serpentos: "Tell that to her when she tried the same with all the HA's private diaries."
  • Marcilene: (Sighs) Then we better leave these out of her reach.
  • (Meya): A Tiikon named Heili arrived at my camp yesterday, though not to hire me. She said that she was a scholar studying the creatures on this island, and that she wanted to observe my beasts. I turned her away at first, not trusting her intentions. How could I? What mad fool would bother with scholarly pursuits in a place like this? Yet she persisted, and in time I was convinced of her honesty. I don't know if I made the right decision. Heili is constantly asking strange questions. Why does she need to know so much about my beasts' feces and mating behavior? What a bizarre person.
  • Marcilene:... She wasn't kidding about being a novice at biology. Analyzing feces is how you study an animal's diet.
  • Cloakblade: Indeed, but not all are jovial about an unsanitary act.
  • (Meya): When Heili arrived, I was constantly glancing in her direction, wondering just what she was scribbling in that thick book of hers. Now I hardly notice her unless we're speaking. The questions haven't stopped, but thankfully they aren't always about things like animal feces. Sometimes we just talk about something simple, like cooking. Neither of us are very good at it, but together we've managed to make a few things that tasted better than plain meat. Yet before long, my territory will be silent once more. Heili says she has to move on, and war is brewing in the south. Someone will need my sword very soon.
  • Cloakblade: Hmm... I suppose this is when she's going to prove her worth.
  • (Meya): The war in the south is not an ordinary one. According to the member of the Dyesharks that arrived to hire me, his tribe is fighting the Artegerent Legion. I admit, that gave me pause. They were formidable before, and they've grown even stronger since we last met. Yet I have grown stronger too, and the Sharks were clearly in desperate straights. I could not turn them away. As I readied for war, I recalled a dream I had many months ago. I still don't believe in fate, but maybe this is my nature. On this island, maybe I can actually be like my surrogate father.
  • Serpentos:... Alright, this oughtta be good.
  • (Meya): My beasts are precisely what the Sharks lacked. Most of their martial strength lies at sea. On land, they lacked a unit with the ferocity of a true vanguard. Without that, they could merely withstand the Legion's siege, not break it. That changed when my beasts crashed into the Legion's rear like a great wave. I can still hear the cheers as the Legion fled. I can feel the echo of the emotion that swelled in my chest. If I could return home, I imagine that is what I would feel like. I won't dare forget it.
  • Serpentos:... Huh. She did it. She was REALLY starting to scare this Legion, I bet.
  • (Meya): Sometimes I fear that I have grown fangs or horns without noticing. What else can explain the way others look at me? In battle the Sharks cheer me, but afterwards we rarely speak. I camp separately and only am summoned when it's time to discuss strategy. I do not understand. Trust is rare on this island. I know that. But have I not bled in their defense? Have my beasts not died fighting their battles? Perhaps it's just the strain of war. We're in Legion territory now, taking the battle to them. Soon the war will be won. Surely then the Sharks will not fear me.
  • Serpentos: Oh, it's about to go on. So, she wins, right?
  • Marcilene:... MY! These look like angry words. So, I'm guessing no.
  • (Meya): When anger rises, think of the consequences. I know this by heart, yet I cannot help but seethe with fury. Even Suave is keeping his distance. Last night, I awoke to the sound of thunder coming from the Shark's main camp. I rushed to their aid, but blinded by the night and consumed with panic, they attacked my pack. By the time order was restored, we'd both sustained losses. Clearly this was the work of the enemy, but those fools blame me for the confusion. Some even claim I torched their camp. How dare they question my honor after all I've done? Cowards! They have no right!
  • Cloakblade:... Shameful. Only a fool would do so.
  • Marcilene: Well, it's like she said, war tends to mess with people's minds. It was obviously a ploy for the enemy to turn them against their trump card.
  • Serpentos: Yeah, makes sense.
  • (Meya): I should have foreseen this. Though I put my pride aside, those audacious Sharks could not. At their behest, I began the long trek back to my own territory this morning. They say that they will finish the war without me. Doubtful. Without my pack at the van, the Artegerent Legion will surely smash them to pieces. But what can I do? I cannot protect them if they do not want my protection. Will the Legion come for me afterwards? I cannot say, but if they do, I know that I will receive no aid. I must rely on my own strength, and right now I fear it insufficient. I need to become stronger.... I need Fury.
  • Serpentos:...
  • Cloakblade:...
  • Marcilene:... Looks like she just decided to take a greater risk than ever before. After how she described this Fury creature before, I don't think she'd ever dare cross paths with it again.... Yet here she is, relying on it's power to fight against this Artegerent Legion.
  • Serpentos: Does she succeed?
  • Marcilene: Well, let's find out.
  • (Meya): He is mine. After a mighty struggle, the power of Fury is now mine to unleash. The cost was almost too great. I brought only my swiftest beasts on the hunt, hoping to run him in circles, but even still he managed to kill many of them. Were it not for Suave, and, perplexingly enough, Injured-Hand, even at the cost of his injured hand, he may have killed me as well, but my Suave is both swift and cunning. He knew exactly what distance to maintain, exactly when to retreat. No steed could prove more true. And an additional bonus was that afterward, Injured-Hand was treated as the beta of my raptors.... Well... Gamma if I count myself. Tomorrow I must begin acclimating Fury to life in my pack, but for tonight, I will allow myself to celebrate.
  • Marcilene:... Yep.
  • Serpentos: Well, that was amazing.
  • Cloakblade: Yet, as usual, blood could not remain unshed.
  • (Meya): I was wise to test Fury's hunting skills from atop one of my flying beasts. When he stumbled down a small rock formation, his eyes glowed with that familiar hatred and suddenly he proved deaf to my commands. In time, he calmed down and obeyed me once more, but it was a fearsome thing to witness. I think I will keep him apart from the other beasts. Not only will it keep them safe, but it will calm their nerves. They have been tense since his arrival. I cannot blame them. Fury's power could save or doom us. I must use him with extreme care.
  • Serpentos:... And already she's getting herself used to this giant Fury of hers. Impressive.
  • (Meya): Am I making a mistake? Maybe. The closer that great pillar of light gets on the horizon, the more my concern grows. It is a gamble, no question. Heili said that she did not know if this pillar of light will behave like the other one. Yet if it does, if we are transported to some other plane to battle a monster for a mysterious key, then there's a chance that this could be the first step on the path home. If not that, then at least a path away from this island and the Artegerent Legion. Technically Heili has hired me, but that small chance is payment enough. It's worth the risk. I hope I am prepared.
  • Serpentos:... Hmm.... And she's ALSO started a new adventure.
  • Marcilene: And it's one I have an itching feeling may be the most important one of her life. The one she was looking for.
  • (Meya): Had I let fear rule me and left Fury behind, then Heili and I would be dead. Only with his strength were we able to defeat the gigantic ape. His rage cost some of my pack their lives in the aftermath, but that was the price of victory. The price of hope. And again, spontaneously, Injured-Hand lived. But his other hand was gone. The key we were rewarded with matches the one Heili already had. The means the third pillar must lead to a third key. And when combined? What then? It's uncertain, but if each pillar takes us somewhere, then maybe their combined power can take us anywhere. Maybe it can take us off this prison of an island.
  • Serpentos:... Looks like she's going to go back on this journey of her's after all.
  • Marcilene:... Oh dear.... Looks like things got downhill fast. Listen to this.
  • (Meya): Damn those Artegerent Legion cowards! At full strength, I could have fended them off, but they attacked just as we returned to the pillar of light. What beasts I had were exhausted, and Fury flew into a rage before I could start a retreat. When that happened, all hope was lost. All my beasts were killed. Every single one. Fury fell off a cliff to his death as his rage got the better of him. Even Injured-Hand. With both his hands gone, he couldn't maintain balance and was eaten alive by one of the Artegerent's giants.... Well, all were gone... Except one. The last thing I remember is a sharp pain in my side. When I awoke, I was alone with Suave. Both of us were covered in blood, but Suave's wounds were deeper. I cannot fathom how he carried me to safety in such a state. I must find a place to hide. Suave and I are alone now, and barely clinging to hope.
  • Serpentos:... Oh dear.
  • Cloakblade: How unfortunate she lost all the family she had so easily.
  • Marcilene:... Oh... These are the words of sadness. Well, that, and the tear stains on this scroll. Seems like... She lost the last, and first, tame she ever had. Seems the wounds her favorite raptor had... Proved too fatal.
  • (Meya): My dearest friend is gone. To his last he was magnificent. The creatures that attacked us were larger and with his wounds they were even faster, but no beast could ever match Suave in spirit. I buried him where he fell, saving me one last time. I was unworthy of such a loyal friend, but I will avenge him. His true murderers will pay. Not the beasts, but the Artegerent Legion. They are responsible. I swear by the souls of my ancestors that I will find their leader and drive my blade into his heart! In Suave's name I will take his head!
  • Serpentos:... Spirit, all the way.
  • Cloakblade: Proud for her spirit.
  • (Meya): As I thought, the Legion was at the last pillar of light. I sighted them as they departed, and have been following them since. They are too many for me to fight head on. If they spot me, I will be killed, but I know how to hide from sight and mask my scent from their beasts. It did not take long to discern which one was the leader. No one else walks with his pride or gestures with his authority. I could probably have hit him with an arrow by now, but I want him to see my face. I want him to know that the Animal Queen vanquished him.
  • Cloakblade:... Well, looks like she's getting close.
  • (Meya): I soon regretted freeing Heili from her cage before following the Legion through the portal they opened. She was too focused on the wonders around us. When she saw that most of the Legion was dead, she even tried to dissuade me from killing their leader. After I explicitly told her I wanted him to pay righteously for killing the closest I had to a family since Guoylu, I knocked her unconscious when she ignored my arguments. I wish her no harm but I cannot let her interfere. At least she told me his name: Nervay. That is the man I will kill here, on this most fitting stage. I admit, it is beautiful. The stars shine so clearly. I can think of no better place for my vengeance. Here, at the edge of heaven, let our battle finally be decided.
  • Marcilene:... Oh dear. This is the last scroll.
  • Serpentos: So, did she win or what?
  • Marcilene:... Let's find out. (Deep breath)...
  • (Meya): I suspect Nervay knew that he would not fare well in battle. After taking a couple blows from my sword, he dashed off into the darkness. However, I know he was deeply wounded. His blood cannot lie. I suspect this command center was created by something with technology far beyond most normal comprehension. In the distance I can see a perfect spatial view of the planet, and I had not known that most of it was the wasteland I saw before I was scared onto the island that was now below me. I am now sure that I could find another area to continue my journey now that I was free. But disturbing of all, I saw what looked like giant reptilian beings off on the ground. I couldn't see what they looked like from such a high altitude, but I would rather not go anywhere near until I know what they were. But first things first, I had a family to avenge. Though that scoundrel Nervay must have escaped before he could meet his death. Little does he know, I won't give up that easily, I will find him in whatever realm he travels to. There is a terminal that sits upon a platform near the end of the command center. Surely, through some combination of codes, that must unlock travel to other lands on this planet. But it does not. It only adds another foe to be slain by the Animal Queen. After Nervay is killed for his crimes... I must continue on my journey. Though in the event I should not survive... This will be my last scroll before I truly leave the island.
  • Serpentos:... Oh, great. A cliffhanger.
  • Cloakblade: I'm sure she's still alive. Her fame seemed to have reached the ears of many animals on this planet. In fact, if you were to say the name, many animals seem to have a response. Watch. (Clears throat)... MEYA LIU!!! (The words echoed as many animals had mixed reactions and mostly retreated)... So, she's likely still alive.
  • Serpentos: But where is she?
  • Cloakblade: That, is a good question.
  • Marcilene: "Then let us seek the answer of that riddle out."

(Later...) Lapse Wastes

  • Cloakblade:... It appears we have found more notes from Meya.
  • Serpentos: So she IS alive!
  • Marcilene:... Indeed. Let's see what she's been up to. (They read the scrolls)
  • (Meya): Where have I been taken? When I tried to pull my sword from that machine to free us from Nervay's merciless cold grip, there was a bright flash and suddenly I was in this desolate place without Heili. Whatever that device was, I must have broken it, and it must've sent me and Heili to different places. Nervay wasn't done, though. We fought and he scarred me. But then something happened. He was burning up and showing signs of radiation poisoning. He was burning. I felt it too and took cover in the shadows, and I watched, rather happily in an excessive manner, as Nervay was burned alive. Despite what he's done, part of me thinks that I should bury him. He was a tyrant, but he still died a warrior's death. For now, I will bandage the wound on my face and rest. It is becoming night as I write this, and it will be safe to explore at this time.
  • Serpentos:... Arbasus.
  • Cloakblade: That must've been absolute hell for Nervay to die like that.
  • Mercilene: I can imagine so. Radiation is very merciless when it kills.
  • (Meya): I was fortunate today. The sun was rising as I found some kind of cave underneath a boiling pool of water, and had I not found at it, I would never be writing this next chapter of my journey for my family. When the sun came, I ran for it as fast as I could. My legs ached and smoke was rising from my armor by the time I arrived, yet I was still alive. So now the sun was trying to kill me. Perhaps I was delirious, but I laughed at the notion. Monsters and armies have failed, so let the sun have its chance. I will defeat it too. But monsters? As a reptilian being, I could hold my breath underwater for a long time, but I still needed to get air. I figured I'd reach my destination by the time my lungs gave out, but I encountered these bizarre marine worms. They tried to consume me. I swam as fast as I could, and almost drowned by a second had I not reached my destination and decapitated five of those monstrous worms.
  • Cloakblade:... Impressive.
  • Serpentos: At this point, nothing can even kill her. Not even Nervay or someone worse than him.
  • (Meya): Yesterday, I realized that I could rest no longer. I had no more spare cloth for bandages and had eaten nearly all the moss nearby. Rather than risk the heat of the sun on the surface, I ventured deeper into the caverns. It was a treacherous descent, but I am glad I went. This cave is larger than I could have imagined. In fact, it is hardly a cave at all. A great forest flourishes down here. It is as if this whole land is backwards. However, there is one thing that is familiar to me. The air is thick with the sound and smell of wild beasts. I must remain on my guard.
  • Serpentos: Given how alien this place looks, I'd say so.
  • (Meya): The light down here does not burn like the light on the surface. Not even the light that comes from the ceiling. I do not understand why, but I am glad for it. I was attacked by a pack of small monsters with spines on their backs. In another life, they would have terrified me, but now I fear no beast. I slew many of them, but more kept appearing. Even after killing the largest of them, they did not hesitate. Only when I neared a strange, glowing pillar did they retreat. They seem to fear the unusual light it emits. I should use that weakness against them.
  • Cloakblade:... She seems to have encountered the Eerioses of these caves.
  • Marcilene: Indeed she has. She was fortunate, again.
  • (Meya): I finally removed the bandages from my face. While I avoided infection, the wound will surely scar. I do not mind, and neither does my new companion. In fact, I had just removed my bandages when I first saw him. From the branch of a great tree, he stared down at me with curious eyes. I stared back just as curiously. It looked almost like a young jeer, but its fur was colorful and it glowed like a fallen star. He reminded me of the paintings I'd seen of Zoian creatures, but he seemed too small. Whatever he is, he approached me so innocently that I could not leave him behind. So now he is Sho, my little light in the dark.
  • Serpentos: Aww, she found a new friend.
  • Marcilene: Yes. I hope she fought well for Suave in this new environment.
  • (Meya): Navigating the forest has been easier with Sho at my side. His light has both guided and protected me. The small, spined monsters that I fought before returned in numbers, but they cowered and fled before Sho's light, as they did from the glowing pillar. So long as Sho is with me, I need not fear them. Yet Sho's power is not an endless well. If he does not periodically extinguish his light to rest, it will fade with time on its own. I must be careful when wandering into the darkest parts of this glowing blue forest, lest Sho's light go out and we are both put at risk.
  • Serpentos:... Strategic instinct continues to serve her well.
  • (Meya): Even with Sho's help, I can only do so much on foot. I need a reliable steed that can carry me swiftly through the forest and help me gather resources like Suave did. Fortunately, I may have found such a beast. The other night, I heard many howls in the distance. When I investigated, I found a pack of strange beasts that looked like hairless rolves. They are ugly, vicious creatures but they are the perfect size for riding. For now, I shall stalk the pack. When one of the rolves is separated from the others, then I will knock it out with my arrows, and claim it for my own.
  • Serpentos:... Interesting. She found a pack of vulves. And now she'll be able to ride one.
  • (Meya): I have named my wolf Bleak. Though no beast can replace Suave, Bleak is swift and fierce, just as he was. Upon his back, I can travel across the forest with ease. Yet I know that Bleak alone is not enough. In these lands, the strong will dominate the weak, and they will try to destroy those who do not submit. I am reminded of this every time my scar aches. To survive I must grow stronger. It is time to rebuild my army, starting with Bleak's family. I feel that, just like Suave, I must bring Bleak's pack into my cause. It seems right.
  • Serpentos: Indeed it does. That's what I would've done, too.
  • Cloakblade: Precisely.
  • Marcilene: Amen.
  • (Meya): Yesterday, I stalked a giant shelled crustaceous beast that resembled a sleek tetrus, and also had with it four large claws that it could use like hands. Though slow, it seemed strong. I decided it would be a good addition to my army, but before I could attempt to bring it down, something swooped down from the sky to attack it. It was a great lizard, but not one like the ones I had seen before. No, this beast was a true dracthon, long of body with a feathery mane. It used the feathers on its arms to ride the wind and tore its prey's shell asunder with iron claws. When it was finished with its meal, it scaled the cavern wall and became one with the shadows, vanishing entirely from my sight. I have found my new prey. Soon, I shall command the might of a dracthon.
  • Marcilene:... A Rockour. Just like the ones Johno rode... Except with feathers.
  • Serpentos: Sounds like she'd fit right in with a wild place like this.
  • Marcilene: Looks like it.
  • (Meya): The dracthon was even more formidable than I expected. At first, Bleak and his pack was able to dance around the beast while I riddled it with arrows, but I underestimated how far its feathered arms could take it. Its sudden leap left, Bleak's leg was wounded and I was flung from the saddle. The crippled rolf could not fight after that, but thanks to his pack, I was able to survive myself by taking to the trees. By the time the dragon succumbed to my knockout poison, it's hide was full of arrows. Bleak needed some time for his leg to heal when I found it wasn't a serious injury. His first real challenge was one that I thanked with major gratitude. Thanks to him, I possess the strength of a dracthon. I am the Animal Queen once more.
  • Serpentos: WOOHOO! Way to go, Meya!
  • (Meya): Travelling through the cave is easy thanks to my dracthon, who I have named Dagon. I have discovered that the cave is even larger than I imagined. Beyond the forest, there are tunnels that lead further down into the ground, to a land of glistening water and plants that glow like Sho does. How far down does it go? If I keep going, will I find something akin to hell? I do not know, but I will press on. I cannot return home, or even to the island I came from. My enemy lies dead far behind me, and I have found no friends or allies. I have no aim beyond simply surviving. So for now, all I can do is move forward. My familial destiny awaits.
  • Serpentos: Good for her!
  • (Meya): The beasts of this land grow stranger the deeper I go. Yesterday I was attacked by a swarm of flying demons with writhing tentacles in place of heads. I think they were after Sho. Where some monsters feared his light, these ones hungered for it. However, they were no match for Dagon's fangs and my blade together. Still, I will keep Sho close and have him extinguish his light for now. I could not bear it if he came to harm. Of everyone I have met in these lands, only Sho has stayed by my side of his own will. Even Suave had to be laid low first. I suppose there was that woman from the island too, but she is gone. Besides, I struck her. I doubt we were friends.
  • (Meya): I have finally built an army I can call my own. The creatures here had many of their own specialties. Most were like the ones I encountered on the island, including more raptors. But they had their own glow like Sho did. But as I took a bath in the cascading soothing waters of the forests, I saw that I was not alone by sentience after all. I had found people peeping at me like naughty men, and the footprints I found in their place confirmed they belonged to no beast. Yet if sentient beings left those footprints, they move like no one I have ever seen. They are deep, as though their feet hit the ground with great force, and they often have huge gaps between them. No man can leap that far, yet there are no beast tracks that accompany them. Perhaps if I move carefully, I can track and observe them. Whether they are friend or foe, I should learn more about them before I act.
  • Cloakblade:... How rude of some people to see her as she bathes.
  • Marcilene: It's called the instinct to reproduce. It makes men disgusting and perverse.
  • (Meya): Where did I make my mistake? I moved in silence and never once left the shadows, but somehow they saw me. I mounted Dagon in an instant, but somehow they still caught up to me. Had we fought, the battle may have been difficult. There were only four of them and I had Dagon alone when I followed those sentient beings who were spying on me, but their weapons and armor glowed like moonlight and their movements were swift. I was about to strike first when one of them raised her hands and took off her helmet, revealing that she was a Skorner, one of the races of the UIS. She convinced her friends to lower their weapons, but even as I write, I keep one hand on mine. We may share a camp tonight, but I dare not sleep.
  • Marcilene:... She made a sentient friend quicker than I expected, even though she's not a friend at the very moment.
  • (Meya): The armored ones had many questions when they awoke. They were surprised that I had raised Dagon and my beasts that they escorted to their camps myself, and even more surprised that I came from a different land of monsters. That seemed important to them. I asked questions too. They say it is their armor that lets them see at night and move with such speed. I did not believe it until the Skorner let me wear her helmet. The metal it was made from could recognize a touch and digitally accommodate my head. With it I could see through darkness as though it were bathed in green light, or see the red shadows of distant creatures. It was like magic. Then again, everyone says technology and magic are indistinguishable from each other. Yet I prefer to see technology like magic. They asked if I wanted to stay in their village for a time. I told them that I would return to my camp and pick up my supplies before I return as it seems they missed it when they gathered my army. I doubt I will stay long... But I want to see more of this magic.
  • Marcilene:... Indeed, she just might be a friend after all.

Who Is Rav?Edit

Scorchar Desert

  • Radcliff:... Well this makes no dag nabit sense! These tablets are accounting the life of someone named... Rav RaSkyne, a self-proclaimed leader of some lost city.
  • Stephanie: Lost city?
  • Radcliff: Apparently these giant obelisks destroyed it and sunk it underground. I'll be damned if I knew why.
  • Stephenie:... Maybe reading these tablets can give us some info on how this Scyrian technology works.
  • Radcliff: "Not a bad idea, hun, but.... I don't think either of us can READ this gibberish! It's amazing I even got the name right!"
  • Qolma: Maybe I can help you with that. (She reads them)... Yeah, I can DEFINITELY do that.
  • Radcliff: Easy for you to say. You're a Magelian mage.
  • Qolma: Well, you're getting a translation, aren't you? Ahe-he-hem...
  • (Rav): Even at this distance the great obelisk is beautiful. It is like a pillar of Arta-Ra's light given solid form. I wish we could have made our camp right beside it, but the others thought that might draw unwanted attention. Some part of me wanted to call them cowards for that, but, a greater part acknowledges that I am not an invincible god or immortal, so, I'll humor the lack of bravery. At least we are close enough to be in its shadow and drink from the river that runs beneath it. I always face it when I pray to Plakmet, and though I can feel the skepticism in my companions' gazes, my faith is unshaken, for it was my faith that guided us here to this place rich with water and resources. All agree it is the ideal location for a settlement. Wherever we are, the gods are watching over us I know it.
  • Qolma:... It appears this Invervisaur was a philosophical priestess.
  • Radcliff: I kinda expected that from an Invervisaur.
  • Stephanie: Radcliff, please don't be assumptions!
  • Radcliff: "Hey, fair's fair, I've met alot of Invers that are like this one! So it's not being "Assumuious" if it's accurate!"
  • Stephanie: "Well I've met Athesist Invers, so it IS assumsuious!"
  • Radcliff: "Wait, atheist Invers are a thing?"
  • Qolma: "AHEM?! Can we get back to the story, lovebirds?"
  • (Rav): Construction has been going well. None of us are architects, but it wasn't a daunting task to adjust to such a rare role of our persons. Giru's broad shoulders and a booming laugh conceal a keen mind, and we started making better progress once I convinced him to stop hauling rocks and start drawing up plans that let Amiar focus on starting a garden where he is more at home. I have focused on trying to keep us organized and maintaining our spirits myself. I wish I could do more, sadly while a priestess has many gifts, manual labor is not one of them. I often find myself winded before midday. I pray that the others do not find me burdensome.
  • Qolma: Well, establishing a colony isn't very lucrative.
  • Radcliff: Still would've been nice if she did managed to pull her weight around. (Stephanie shoved him) Hey!
  • (Rav): Back in Luxem, I always tried to stay out of politics. I never aspired to be Divine Adoratrice as some priestesses did. I found that such selfish ambitions often led to suffering, both for oneself and for others. So when Giru referred to me as our leader today, I found myself surprised. I had tried to refused, but, Giru insisted the others won't accept a "Stand-in" in comparison to my guidance. I had never asked for such a position and the others had never bestowed it on me in any official manner. It just happened naturally. That same part of me that would call them cowards would've wanted me to keep true to my beliefs and be blunt in refusal, but, the same greater part kept true in that I bore no such luxuries in refusal, as the planet is one of an untamed nature where a group with no desired leader, or any at all, is doomed a failure. I am not sure what to make of it but if this is Plakmet's will then I will try to guide these people as best as I can.
  • Radcliff: Wow. Their leader, just like that? Where's the democracy here?!
  • Stephanie: I'm pretty sure they weren't in the position to have an election about this, all things considered about this planet dear.
  • Radcliff: She even admitted that politics weren't her thing! That means she had NO business to be a leader if you're not INTERESTED in being political!
  • Qolma: Well there's a lot of tablets, so odds are, she accommodated well.
  • (Rav): Our settlement has grown so quickly during these hectic months. So many wandering souls have found their way here seeking shelter and companionship, have done my best to welcome everyone I can. If treated with understanding most become productive loyal members of our community. But to any reader outside of myself, deem me not a "soft-hearted" fool, as it were. I nary forgotten the kind of natures a wild world can create. I know that hearts can have two natures. Plakmet had two hearts and two natures. One offers compassion while the other brings devastation. As we grow in size we become a riper target for those with malice in their hearts. Giru has tried to organize a militia but I fear it inadequate. For now I must be wary and pray that the gods send us a true warrior.
  • Stephanie:... Well, I may not be religious, but I too hope they do.
  • (Rav): It took longer than I'd hoped, but I believe the gods have heard my prayers. At least I believe so. When I imagined what a true warrior might be like, I cannot say that I imagined Captain Coopher. He speaks tersely, has no sense of decorum and in general is rather prickly. He was nigh unapproachable for a whole day when we decided his position should be called captain instead of the nonsense word he proposed. 'Sheriff' was it? Surely he forgotten he's in a world not yet of laws beyond the laws of nature. Yet he has been getting results, or so I am told. When I find time, I ought to observe him in action myself.
  • Radcliff: Sounds to me like she found herself a blowhard.
  • Stephanie: Oh definitely. Two dollars says they'll get together.
  • Radcliff: You're on.
  • (Rav): I am still not accustomed to the loud fiery weapons that our new captain is training his men to use. Their power is so destructive that it seems almost too much for any mortal being to possess. Yet Captain Coopher strolls up and down his line of trainees like they are wielding wooden swords, and twirls his own weapon almost absentmindedly. It is somewhat unnerving to find someone so calm around such potent instruments of death. But I suppose that is why he has had such success in securing our borders. I can only hope that we need but one Captain Coopher and that I never have to use those weapons myself.
  • Stephanie:... Well, glad to meet someone else who doesn't like guns. I mean, I know Rad, ya don't like it when I bring conflicting politics to this as typical of Keuca society, but they don't seem to have much popularity to everyone for their habit of killing with just one shot.
  • Radcliff: Eh, you just get over that and learn self-defense with it, and it's all good. That's how these UUniverses work.
  • Stephanie: "Well maybe to the beliefs of Keubrics, but Keucanics believe peacefuller approaches can resolve all conflicts."
  • Radcliff: "Well the crud load of wars and Iallog as a whole would have to say "Hold my beer" to that and go up to your face and say "Oh I'm sorry, am I nothing to you"?"
  • Stephanie: "(Sighs dejected), Okay, at least the dream is that peacefuller approaches should resolve things."
  • Qolma: "Not meaning to side with Flyboy here, but, to be fair in the case of this world, being civil is always thrown out the window when surviving is always a priority."
  • (Rav): It has been such a blessing to be able to spread Plakmet's joy and love to so many people, even at the face of mild skepticism of belief's supposed ill-placement in a wild world. At first, my daily prayers garnered but a few curious observers. Yet soon observations turned to questions, and questions turned to participation. Granted, there are the exceptions that questions just turned into more questions, and not always inviting ones and/or claims that belief is ill-placed here, but, I allow their beliefs. Being of faith does NOT always mean being a zealot. I would do Plakmet a dis-service if I harmed critics in his name, even in a world with little to hold such actions back. Now there are so many of us that we have even begun to construct a shrine. I truly wish that I could teach these eager new students all day long, but my duty to the village must come first. Perhaps when our future here is finally secured I shall be able to live the life of a priestess again, but for now I have too many people counting on me. I cannot abandon them.
  • Radcliff:... She's got dutiful instinct inside of her, AND she avoided the opportunity to go straight up zealot. I respect that.
  • (Rav): Names are a curious thing. We assign them great weight, yet they do not change the substance of the person, place, or thing they belong to. I suppose that line of thinking is why I never dwelled on the name of our humble village. Yet now that it has grown to become somewhat less humble our home can go nameless no longer. People must call it something. To that end, Krater Cention is as good a name as any. I am told that it means 'central core' in some old important language, and whatever our citizens intended that to symbolize when they chose it I know this: while we are here, we are under the protection of the gods.
  • Stephanie:... It's going to be one HELL of a shock when she finds out what those obelisks really are.
  • Radcliff: "That much can am gonna agree with."
  • (Rav): Lost souls from all across the desert continue to prostrate themselves before Krater Cention's gates. I adamantly refuse to turn away anyone that does not mean us any harm, even at mild dis-satisfaction of advisers, but, one thing I do take seriously from them is that my kind actions has left us with many mouths to feed. Truly the universes can be fickle to those of kind hearts. As a result, Krater Cention's fields are its most valuable asset. Fortunately, Giru's designs, and my organization of labor and resources have once again proven effective. Not only did we implement an efficient irrigation system, but we have encased our crops in a large protective structure made of the closest we could get to glass. Every morning it sparkles with a Arta-Ra's light, like a great gem, a beautiful reminder of what we can accomplish when we are united in purpose.
  • Radcliff: Glad to know that this 'Krater Cention' place was growing.
  • (Rav): Despite our best efforts and the blessing of the gods, tragedy is unavoidable in these strange lands. Yesterday it struck Krater Cention once more in the form of an M-Lucus attack, and while I could not undo what had been done, I hope that I was able to bring some small comfort to those who knew the victims best. Though we lack the resources to properly inter the dead in tombs, and mere burial without coffins leave the departed not completely devoured by the M-Lucus vulnerable to ground-borrowing scavengers to finish off at leisure, we still held a ceremony in their memory and I made time to speak privately with anyone who wished to. I would prefer my people to not bare ill-will for the creatures. They are products as intended of nature, what they did is not of malice, but of self-preservation, if admittingly, I suppose it's why we sentients have left behind nature. It's a harsh and fickle mistress, regardless of your awareness. Between that and my usual duties I am physically and emotionally exhausted, but when my people are suffering I can not afford to rest.
  • Stephanie:... M-Lucuses?
  • Qolma: Think of them as, raptor mangrises.
  • Stephanie:... Ohhh. Well, props for Rav for not encouraging hatred to animals.
  • (Rav): Early on I handled all of Krater Cention's trade negotiations, and I have had trouble growing out of the habit. I suppose that is why every caravan or hunter that passes through our gates knows my name. Some still insist on speaking with me personally. But I do not mind. I find these dealings rather engaging, if albeit samey after awhile. It is like playing a game of words. One such caravan arrived yesterday bearing a haul of metal ingots. Our venerable captain has suggested that I bring a contingent of guards to the negotiations, but I would rather not. If our guests are intimidated, they may back out and I would be remiss to waste such an opportunity.
  • Radcliff:... Mmm... My military instincts tell me this was no trade agreement.
  • Qolma:... You're right. It was a ransom attempt. But... Seems like she had a lot of problems with her captain's rescue.
  • (Rav): I shall gladly admit that I erred. I even admit that I owe Captain Coopher my life and offer him all the gratitude he is due. Yet that does not excuse such merciless behavior. Those so-called merchants may have stooped to viciousness and cruelty by trying to kidnap me for ransom, but that one had surrendered. The False Merchant decided to surrender the Ingots in returned of being spared, which of course, I'll grant him the mercy of the gods to allow. It's a fair enough trade, even if Coopher appeared deaf to this and wanted to execute him on the spot, but, the false merchant was lucky I kept the blood-hungry captain on a tight leash. But still.... I wished the now lone conman's friends did not had to die for a misguided venture. They were not evil, just desperate to try and bribed what they assumed to be a selfish well-off land to trade resources for my safety and perhaps assumed that gentler interactions would've been refused. It pains me they died with a false expectation while a survivor was left with painful memories. I do not want that kind of image to be representative of the belief I bring here. That would scare friendlier caravans or those too weak to survive on their own. It is so hard to see where light ends and darkness begins in this violent place of a planet. Perhaps if I could adequately protect myself we could have avoided needless bloodshed. Yes, I think it is time I shall master these explosive weapons, and Captain Coopher is going to help me.
  • Radcliff:... She was mad at her captain for protecting her the way one should in a place like this? I know that any keucanic would say killing may seem morally unacceptable, but that's the way it goes on many worlds.
  • Stephanie: Not that I want to be against Rav on her judgment, but, I can't entirely disagree here. Cloakblade had to learn that on her first mission as Invi.
  • (Rav): Step by step I am learning how to shoot. During my first few lessons the weapons almost jumped out of my hand when I fired them, but my arms have grown stronger and my aim truer. Captain Coopher’s presence has been helpful. The same calm that is found unnerving from afar has been steadying from up close. He does not waste his breath in exaggerated praise or criticism, he simply keeps me focused on what I need to do and everything else just falls away. Considering where I started, he has been very patient with me. Perhaps I should be more patient with him.
  • Radcliff:... Looks like they're warming up to each other.
  • (Rav): In ancient times, gentle Plakmet took the form of her monster side, and unleashed her wrath upon the Invervisaur world. Yet even during her relentless slaughter, her good side was within her bad side as much as her bad side was always within her good side, and when she was eventually calmed the peaceful goddess of joy and love returned. As it is with the goddess, so it is with mankind. The vicious can become kind, and the kindhearted can become violent for all his past transgressions. Captain Coopher is no different. He did not grasp Plakmet’s tale when I told it to him the other day, but if he keeps trying to better himself, then perhaps one day he will.
  • Radcliff:... They're DEFINITELY warming up with each other.
  • Stephanie: Hon, don't pressure me on that bet. Bets tend to get hectic when that happens, and that is technically a sabotage.
  • Radcliff: Sorry, I mean, that wasn't the intent, I-
  • Qolma: Both you lovers shut it, I'm trying to read and translate.... I'm trying to reaslate.... Or, transread? Uh, whatever, I'm doing them.
  • (Rav): In principle, I have turned into a competent marksman. Yet in practice how would I fare? When the time comes, could I end another sentient life? I am not so sure. My mouth grows dry with fear at the very thought. The warrior spirit of Plakmet's evil half surely resides somewhere within the recesses of my heart, but search as I may, I can not find it. As training I offered to put down some of our beasts that had grown deathly ill. It was a merciful act, but it still drew tears from my eyes and twisted my stomach into knots. I must learn to act in spite of these feelings. My life may depend on it one day.
  • Radcliff:... Wow.... I actually feel sorry for her now. And I feel like a dingus for criticizing.
  • Stephanie: "See what happens when you get to know someone different from you when you put aside the Keubric hot-blood?"
  • (Rav): Despite my best efforts, I know that I have strayed from the teachings and customs that I learned so meticulously back home. Out of necessity, I have adapted it to both the needs of Plakmet’s new followers and the circumstances we all face in this desert. For example, celebrating the gods with feasts and festivals in their name would be wasteful. This sacrifice is particularly unfortunate, for my students deserve some sort of reward for their diligence. Perhaps I can still organize a modest celebration of some sort. In fact, maybe the whole village should have one just to raise everyone’s spirits. Even our venerable Captain might enjoy that. Ah, but I ask for miracles.
  • Radcliff:... I think this Coopher guy would sound like the guy who'd hesitate on such parties.
  • Stephanie: Everyone's gotta have a break.
  • (Rav): I trust our Captain’s judgment on matters of defense, but I still feel ill at ease with his decision to rally against these M-Lucuses isn't going to leave the village unprotected. I bare no comfort of him bringing harm to creatures that are only of nature's design, yet, I couldn't bring myself to be contrarian to his argument that our home would not survive persistent visits by the creatures, espeically in a yet secured state. But I bare, a far more personal concern. I fear that his own contingent is too small. I know that I should not be concerned. He personally vouched for the caliber of his team, and I have more immediate priorities. Our walls and gates need repairs, our infirmary needs supplies and our morale needs bolstering. I have been scrambling to and fro with such constant urgency that rings have formed beneath my eyes. Yet when I finally earn a moments respite, I am restless with worry.
  • Radcliff:... I know love when I see or hear it. And this? Rav seems to grow fond of Coopher. She admits she worries for his safety... In a way that makes her care too much for him than just a friend.
  • Stephanie: Well, we can't know for sure yet.
  • (Rav): The people of Krater Cention come from so many different places, and they all have different ways of thinking. On occasion this incites conflict. Several weeks ago two newcomers came to blows over a long-standing feud between their home nations, and just the other day I had to harshly discipline one of my own disciples for harassing the villagers who worship some wooden symbol. One time a man even challenged me to a duel for Krater Cention’s leadership. I am not a boaster, but, I will admit the guilty pleasure of, having some enjoyment in teaching the challenger a strong lesson. I just hope sees his defeat as a sign that the gods had deemed leadership not his destiny. Yet those same two people who engaged in fisticuffs now work to repair our western gate, and it is stronger for their combined efforts. Perhaps that is why the gods have brought us all here. To help us understand each other.
  • Radcliff:... Seems confusing to see things philosophically in her eyes when we know what's around her.
  • Stephanie: Yeah.
  • (Rav): For days, I have prayed for both Plakmet's compassion and healing powers, and for days I have waited. I have faith that they heard me. When I first laid eyes on him, I thought for sure he was dead or dying, but the gods have not yet taken Johno Coopher away from me. My mind knows that I have other responsibilities to attend to, that I cannot afford to spend more time in this room. Yet I know that if I attempt to attend to my duties, my heart will interfere and I cannot neglect it. Not any longer.
  • Stephanie:... Okay, I don't know if I lose or not, but-
  • (Rav): Without question, it was Plakmet's divine will that sent me here, not only so I could spread her joy and compassion, but so I could understand her love. I thought I knew it before. I loved my family, I loved my fellow priestesses, and I love all those under my care here in Krater Cention. Yet only when I finally surrendered myself to it, when I let it rush over my body and carry me like the current of a great river did I truly understand it. Only now can I claim to embody Plakmet's teachings, thanks to Johno Coopher, this warrior from a distant time and place. And now, together, we can turn this desert into a paradise.
  • Stephanie: AAAAND that's a yes. (She gave Radcliff two bucks)
  • Qolma: (Chuckles) You two are starting to make me laugh.
  • (Rav): The mood in Krater Cention has been so jubilant lately that I think we may just hold a festival after all, and why not? We have plenty of cause to celebrate. With the M-Lucus diminished, (Though I still pity the creatures that had to die for our survival's sakes, I know those of personal wounds are, understandably less merciful for clear reasons, so, I'll be patient with the misguided hurrah of the death of creatures), our scouts were able to establish an outpost in the north, where they discovered a wealth of thick, black oil seeping through cracks in the ground. Thanks to this bounty, we have been able to create amazing new tools, and fill our storehouses to the brim. Granted, there were a select number of those that find discontent with certain resources cause of concerns of long-term effects on the environment. By all means their concerns had not fallen on deaf ears, but it was prudent that they are reminded that we are not in a luxurious state to worry about politics as if this is a civilized planet. I sensed their begrudgence, but, they complied.
  • Stephanie: "(Sighs), As much as my eco-care sensibilities really want me to hate her now, I understand that it was a tough call."
  • (Rav): A festival would hardly make a dent. I am sure my beloved Captain will disagree. Ever the dutiful worrier. Fortunately, I can be quite convincing where Johno Coopher is concerned, and for one day, we deserve to supplant worry and duty with song and dance.
  • Radcliff:... I have a feeling this won't be so 'jubilant' forever. Krater Cention isn't on the present-day maps.
  • (Rav): As I watched Giru's team construct the curious, bladed tower that is meant to harness the power of Shinda's winds, I could not help but marvel at how far we have come. In such a short time, Krater Cention has risen from nothing into a true city, with wonders that would make even the great Pharaohs envious. For all its storms and creatures, this desert grows less threatening to us each day, and fewer people are forced to suffer and die by its hand. Perhaps one day, no one will. If we can achieve that, then every hardship and every sacrifice we have endured will have been worth it.
  • Qolma:... And indeed, you're correct.... (Sighs in depression)... Krater Cention would meet an unexpected yet ironic end, according to these next few tablets.
  • (Rav): Over the last few days, the lights of the great obelisks have been pulsing with a rhythm and intensity that I have never seen before. It is a beautiful, soothing sight, particularly at night. It almost looks like they are singing a song to the stars above. Surely this is a sign of the gods' favor. Plakmet is offering us her blessing. Having another festival would be exorbitant, so I have organized a special round of ceremonies and prayers after dusk instead. Thus far they have gone wonderfully, and everyone has left with renewed faith and vigor. I wonder how long this display will last?
  • Radcliff:... I don't think that's the gods being happy.
  • (Rav): Sometimes, I wonder how Johno can carry on, with no faith in a higher purpose or power and eyes that see threats everywhere. Even when we are safe and secure, he insists on sleeping with a weapon at arms' length. It is no wonder that he suddenly believes the obelisks could be dangerous. Though yet, these great monuments have never done anything malicious, or at the least demonstrated any example-of-danger in the wrong hands. Fortunately I have enough faith for the both of us. I have faith that he will protect us from the flying lizards that have recently appeared, I have faith that the obelisks would never harm us, and I even have faith that I shall forgive his constant prodding on the latter. That final matter might require some additional effort on his part, however. He has been simply relentless about it.
  • Radcliff:... (Sighs) I don't know if I should be annoyed by this lack of skepticism from her, or pity her for her post-tragedy naiveté.
  • (Rav): What did I do wrong? Despite every trial and tribulation, I kept my faith in Plakmet, Arta-Ra and all the gods. No I did more than that. I gave them new followers, I built shrines for them, and held ceremonies for them. So why? Why did the obelisks light up the sky and call down such a terrible doom upon my new home? Why would the gods tear the very ground beneath us asunder and send all that I have built and cherished tumbling into the abyss? Where did I betray them? Were it not for Johno I would not even be able to ask such questions. I would just be some dead fool, whose last act would have been to beg for salvation from the very gods who have forsaken me.
  • Radcliff:... Yeah, I guess can I see why some folks think religiousness can be often detrimental in these UUniverses.
  • Stephanie: Look, Radcliff, I'm not fond of her being overly optimistic, but she had no way of knowing about the true nature of the obelisks.
  • Radcliff: But why would they even do this to Krater Cention?
  • Qolma: How should I know? They're still a mystery to us.
  • (Rav): My mind is filled with the dead. I see the smiling faces of my students, eager to learn. I hear Giru's laugh, deep and merry. I see the outstretched hand of Johno's trusted lieutenant as she fell into the darkness below. Johno tells me not to blame myself, that what happened was unpredictable. Yet how can I not feel guilty when I led so many to worship the instruments of our destruction, all the while promising to keep them safe? By all means, I don't deem the towering objects themselves as malevolent, nor the direct object of the gods nor speakers of their true will. But, it may be possible they are under the control of someone, or something, less kind. At the same time, am I even sure of that? Either way, even if I would have to ensure the destruction of these otherwise still beautiful obelisks, I'll seek to end any misuse of them again. Somehow, I must bury these emotions and focus on the present, as Johno does. If I cannot tear my mind away from what I have lost, I will lose all I have left. I cannot let that happen. I cannot let the gods take him too, assuming if this is even their actual doing.
  • Stephanie:... Okay, I'm starting to feel her emotion.
  • Radcliff:... Me too... But, only a little bit.
  • Qolma:... I'm afraid it gets worse from there.
  • (Rav): I understand now that it was not the act of the gods that took my home. Not even of the malevolent or cruel-humored ones. And that the obelisks were tainted by less than benevolent forces. It was the very flying lizards who did this. They claimed to have served some kind of machine that claimed my city was violating some kind of 'Adytum Project' design. By all means, I can understand if this was supposed to be for a greater purpose of rebuilding the wasted world outside the crater, BUT DID IT NOT KNOW OF WHAT MY PEOPLE DID AND WHAT THEY HAD TO ENDURE?! DID IT HAVE SOME MECHANICAL FACSIMILE OF A HEART?!? Or dare I say.... It did know, BUT IT WASN'T TO IT'S SATISFACTION!! I never trusted artificially-intelligent machines because they were not truly sentient. Much as I don't want to shame those flying lizards of only being victims of corruption, I, I embraced that there was no saving them from sin! They are doomed to be the playthings of the underworld, and.... Darkly, I made peace with it. ESPEICALLY WITH WHAT THEY HAD DO-...... You would have been proud of me. I controlled my breathing, just like you taught me, even with the tears streaming down my face. Even with all the hate and anger in my heart, I kept my aim steady, and I killed them. I killed every single one of those flying lizards that took you from me, Johno. So why have you abandoned me, too? You were the survivor, not I. These creatures should not have been enough to kill you. You were too strong. I need you too much. Please. Come back to me. I need to hear your voice. I need to see your smile. Please. Please.
  • Radcliff: ".... Awwww, shit, is, is that insinuating-....."
  • Stephanie:... (She softly sobbed)
  • Radcliff:..... Sweet freaking Arbasus!... Johno was killed?
  • Qolma:... Looks like it. Poor man died as he lived.... Though something feels off. Rav DID make a good point: He seemed too skilled to be killed by Dracthysaurs.
  • Radcliff:... You're right. My gut's telling me over and over like a broken record, that somehow, he's still alive.
  • Qolma:... Oh gosh!... I think, Rav lost her marbles in this.
  • (Rav): When I found them, I wanted to smash them to bits. Those eggs were the spawn of the monsters of the lizards that served the heartless SOULLESS machine that slew my beloved, and they did not deserve my pity. Yet I also knew they could help me. If I could raise these creatures as my own servants, then even the gods that just, failed me, could not strike me down. I no longer blame them for the actions of others.... But they also did NOTHING to halt this sin?! It may as well be like this was THEIR doing! I have constructed a great bonfire to mimic the warmth provided by their mother, and gathered milk from the mightiest of the fallen beasts so that I may feed them when they hatch. Hopefully it is enough. No, it will be. I will raise these creatures, I will master them and I will survive. I promise you, Johno. I will live for both of us.
  • Radcliff:... Amazing. Looks like there's some ounce of that animal-caring nature left in her after that hatred of Johno's... Apparent, death... Drove it all out of her.
  • Stephanie:... Perhaps she IS like Plakmet.
  • Qolma: Having conquering emotions is just nature. Even she's not immune to what they cause. But she has indeed found a conscience. These eggs she found belonged to the Dracthysaurs she killed.... She has a big heart.
  • (Rav): When the creatures first hatched, I dared not go near them without weapon in hand, but by now we have grown accustomed to each other. I once heard that a newborn creature may identify the first living thing it sees as its parent. I believe that has occurred here. I have become a mother to monsters. So be it. The gods have forsaken me and my love has been taken from me that they did not bother protecting me from a madman's design, so gone now is the Rav of old. Gone are the last vestiges of Plakmet's joy and tranquility. Let my heart fill with Plakmet's dark might and fury, and with monsters at my back and steel in my hands, let the desert know my wrath. Never shall anyone take from me again, be it god, beast or man.
  • Radcliff:... Badass!
  • Stephanie: "Buuuuuut also concerning."
  • Qolma:... Last tablet.
  • (Rav): I have seen so much since we last spoke, John. There are secrets in this desert that you would never believe, dangers that would have paralyzed me with fear when we first met, but I am a different woman now. Would you recognize me still, behind this black veil? I still find ways to help people, though not as I used to. I am no shepherd to the lost, no healer of wounded souls. Sometimes I simply defend the defenseless, or guide those few who seek the truth behind this cursed place. Perhaps one day, someone will find that truth, strike down the neglectent gods of this land, even the madman if they must, and at last grant me rest. Yet until that day comes, know that I will not falter. Know that I will carry on.
  • Stephanie:... (She started to cry again)
  • Radcliff:..... If Vet was here, I bet this story would sell like HOTCAKES?!
  • Qolma and Stephanie just stared at Radcliff like "Seriously"?
  • Radcliff: "...... Aw don't act like she wouldn't BE like that!"

Who Is Johno?Edit

Who Is Dinia?Edit

Who Is Santrago?Edit

TranscriptEdit

ARK Extinction Song Coming Home by NerdOut

ARK Extinction Song Coming Home by NerdOut

Intro Song

Intro Theme (NerdOut- Coming Home) Coming soon...

MaterialEdit

Songs/Music/VideosEdit

Ark - Extinction Theme OST

Ark - Extinction Theme OST

Intro Theme

Ark Menu Theme

Ark Menu Theme

Climax Theme

ARK - Scorched Earth Theme

ARK - Scorched Earth Theme

Scorchar Desert Theme

ARK - Aberration Theme

ARK - Aberration Theme

Lapse Wastes Theme

ARK Genesis Final Boss OST Extened

ARK Genesis Final Boss OST Extened

EP Stonewell AI Fight Theme

ARK - Boss Battle Theme - Rockwell

ARK - Boss Battle Theme - Rockwell

Stonewell's Freedom Theme

ARK - Boss Battle Theme - King Titan (unused stinger)

ARK - Boss Battle Theme - King Titan (unused stinger)

Stonewell Final Battle Theme

ARK Extinction Final Cutscene

ARK Extinction Final Cutscene

Scyria Resurrected

ARK Survival Evolved - Soundtrack - Death Theme

ARK Survival Evolved - Soundtrack - Death Theme

Tension Music

ARK - Loading Screen

ARK - Loading Screen

Travel Theme

ARK - Credit Theme (The Island)

ARK - Credit Theme (The Island)

Final Victory Theme

ARK - Battle Theme - Bioluminiscens Region

ARK - Battle Theme - Bioluminiscens Region

Lapse Wastes Tension Theme

ARK - Battle Theme - Element Region

ARK - Battle Theme - Element Region

Lapse Wastes Enhancelement Pools Theme

ARK Genesis Mission Horde Gauntlet OST Extened

ARK Genesis Mission Horde Gauntlet OST Extened

EP Simulation Tension Theme

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