(part thirty-one)

When we last saw our heroes, they had completely failed to shoot an extremely narrow target with a giant laser beam situated on the opposite side of the planet. Geez, losers! Luckily, they have not heard the old folk definition of insanity.

I'm going to try again!

Well, it had better work this time, as the party has already had to fight four separate boss battles against opponents they will never, ever actually kill.


I'm going to take a nap.

And so Billy lines up the shot again, and it doesn't take like an hour this time. The audience is treated to another sequence of this laser beam traveling considerably slower than the speed of light across the ocean, across the sea-dong, to the Tower... where it hits! And bounces of the mirror as advertised, and... misses Ethos Headquarters!

But still hits the gate, for some reason, so well done. Fei expresses surprise that this plan actually worked, as it is ridiculous, and the party's lady friends all grumble and go home. Finding Solaris is now a matter of one of two things: locating the third gate, which will require more standing around and talking forever, or following their disgruntled enemies to their home base, which would take about ten minutes probably. Guess which option the party goes with!

Why give up on such a winning strategy? Citan whips out a copy of the world map and starts drawing all over it like a sports commentator.

We know there are ultimately four gates: one in Solaris, and three on the surface in a triangle around Solaris. Logically the third one can be in only one of two points to form a triangle with the gates we've destroyed in Nisan and Aquvy.

So we just split up and check both locations, no sweat.

No! We must commit to one now and just give up if we're wrong!

Well, you're the doctor.

Citan, Elly, you are both from Solaris! Can't you just tell us where it is?

Why didn't you ask that five hours ago, Fei? Alas, the Solarian education system is so bad that school children can't find their own country on a map. The two locations under consideration are way the heck up north and in the middle of the ocean, respectively, and after Elly spends a few minutes desperately trying to remember her eighth grade geography, she decides that it being on land is just way too goddamned easy, so she votes ocean.

But there aren't any major religious organizations with their home bases floating on the ocean!

We've run out of major religions anyway. It must be on the ocean floor.

And we just happen to have a submarine!

Yes, a submarine that would be crushed beyond all recognition by the pressure if it dives that far.

...Your submarine sucks.

Oh, but the party knows of someone who completely failed to find an ancient civilization several thousand feet under their noses! That's right, it's time to go hit up the boat of furries again. They will have deep-sea diving equipment big enough for giant robots! Probably. But of course, what you the audience really wants to know is: what do the Gazel think?

What's that? You could not in fact care less about what the Gazel think? Well.


blah blah GATES blah blah!

RAMSUS blah blah!

blah TRASH blah blah!

blah blah blah, blah blah, ANIMUS DATA blah!

LAMBS blah blah!


Oh, who cares about the gates anyway!

The Gazel are unhappy because the citizens of Etrenank are revolting (ha ha), but Krelian brushes them off. They can be manipulated by the word of their beloved Emperor alone! Oh, the Emperor can't get out of bed? They'll just use the ol' clone, no one will know the difference (?!). It is time to talk about memory card saves!

The "mother" is amongst the lambs!

The "mother" has been saving her games? Wouldn't we have noticed?

Yes, if we're going to be using save states as a plot device, can we not at least be consistent about it? Krelian says something vague about how the "mother" only becomes the "mother" after a certain age. Well, that is technically true of all mothers. He is more interested in that nanomachine colony they retrieved from Zeboim, which he calls Emeralda. Emeralda was created four thousand years ago by the "Contact" and the "Antitype!" These sound like new people, but they are actually just new words for the same people. Krelian is far too good for ill-defined pronouns.

So she's important and should be kept for further study?

No, I'm bored now. Let's make them FIGHT!

Meanwhile, the good folks on the Thames have determined that the point the party believes is the last gate is in the Sargasso, "a cave formed from microbes over many years." A new and exciting definition. They don't like the sound of this because no ship has ever returned from the Sargasso, but it's okay, the captain is still drunk.

How about we just waterproof those giant robots for you?


So in they go! Despite the description given, the Sargasso does appear to be made up of seaweed, at least at first, but unlike boring old earth sargassum this seaweed forms a hell mouth that leads straight to the ocean floor. Well, that is less "deadly" and more "convenient." They reach the bottom, where they encounter the third gate, and an especially weird giant robot.

It doesn't have arms! Oh god, why would anyone design a giant robot that doesn't have any arms. Instead, it has wings coming out of its head. Yes, that will definitely make up for this loss of functionality.

Who are you?

I will kill you.

That was going to be my next question.

There's another robot here who says he's one of Krelian's employees and that he will be supervising this fight. Okay. As long as Grahf doesn't come diving in, the party doesn't have much to object to. They fight! The party wins, because this girl's giant robot doesn't have any arms. Krelian's guy nods and takes notes and says we can go ahead and take her, for she is, after all, "your daughter!"


The girl in the armless robot starts freaking out, and the gate explodes! Just like that! Extremely poor design, Solaris! The Yggdrasil flies past the surface of the ocean, and this somehow rescues the party. They... jumped, presumably.

It is time to figure out what is up with this crazy nanomachine colony! Fortunately she is no longer naked. Krelian thoughtfully supplied her with some scarves and dish cloths.


It is speaking some crazy moon language!


Maybe it's tonal.

I think she means you.

How can you tell?

Kim, I had this dream that you were older and I was in a tube and you were making a cake and I don't know why and you wanted me to come out of the tube and then you were dead and I dissolved and it was dark forever and ever!

It was not a good dream.

I see.

She's adorable! Let's keep her!



I'm very confused.

In any case, her name is indeed Emeralda, so named by the Kim fellow for her hair. Not a creative man, Kim. Citan is concerned about what sort of information Krelian got out of this nanowhatsit, but before he can worry out loud much a crewmember comes in to tell them that they have just received a telegram from Shevat! Not a carrier pigeon, not a fax, a dang telegram. ...presumably by wire, but this narration cannot help but picture some poor guy in a cap ringing the Yggdrasil's doorbell. Anyway, due to all these destroyed gates, a city that may be Solaris has been sighted! Or it may be some other city floating around in the upper atmosphere!

Yeah, no, that is probably Solaris.