Monday, September 22, 2008

Nothing of Consequence?

For some time I had heard rumors – nothing more – about the extensive tunnel network on Aether Isle, below Steam Sky City. Not the semi-official tunnels under Miss Avariel Falcon’s Tesla Tower, or what was once the home of Doctor Obolensky’s Lord Smashington II (before the mechanical monster found himself lodged aloft in the City), or the Stormhold Monastery before it became collateral damage in the Doctor’s war against his loud neighbors aloft. These were rumors of deeper tunnels, used for unnatural experiments. I searched for some time, found nothing, then gave up.

Then the noobies started to disappear. At first, no one noticed. By definition, all noobies look more or less alike – why, one might pass by a noobie named “M Linden” and not notice. After enough disappearances, however, the authorities suspected foul play, and I suspected the secret tunnels may have played a role, as the last known sighting were often near Aether Isle. I set out once again to find the hidden tunnels.

I first encountered an abandoned house on Aether Isle. Records showed the property still in the name of Mr. Newbe Writer, but the appearance of the lawn and several broken windows indicated no one had been in residence for some time. Pushing open the unlatched door, I scanned the ground floor. Thought I could see no signs of human habitation, an eerie, ghostly fog permeated the floor, giving an aura of evil. In the day’s fading light, I summoned my courage to travel to the second floor. There I found the mayhem that had been done: lying in a pool of his own blood was a dead noobie.

I seemed to be on the right track.

Under the cover of darkness, I slipped into the tunnel network from an entry point at the Tesla tower. The hum of the machinery filled my ears, and the sharp tang of ozone made my eyes water. Flashlight in hand, I made my way down the dark passageway. I reached the end of the tunnel – or what I thought was the end – when I felt air circulating through what I had earlier believed was a dead end. I made my way through the tiny space, moved along another passage…and promptly fell about six feet as the tunnel came to an abrupt end, opening into a large room. Inhuman noises suggested I was not alone.

Dusting myself off, I swung the torch around the room. Immediately in front of me lay another dead noob.

The skulls nearby suggested this one was not the first victim. Behind the noob was an enormous vorpal bunneh – caged, fortunately, as his hungry eyes tracked my movements. Had I a mutant carrot, I would have pitched it his way.

Then, from the corners of the room, zombies appeared. I quickly drew my pistol and fired at the nearest. The zombie exploded in a mist of blood and guts (quite literally, and I was surprised at how red the blood was).

Fire and reload. Fire and reload. I could send the beasts back to the hell from which they came, but still they kept arriving. I retreated back to the tunnel opening. Firing twice more, I cleared enough space to jump, grab the tunnel opening, and pull myself up before the next onslaught arrived. I kept firing until the gun became hot in my hand. Finally, the main spring failed and I beat a hasty retreat back through the tunnel, to the relative safety of the Caledonian night.

Making a mental note to have Ordinal Enterprises service their pistol, I checked myself for zombie bites. Finding none – I understand the consequences are very unpleasant – I made my way home, the mystery of the disappearing noobies solved. Passing by the site of my zombie encounter – above ground this time, thankfully – I saw a sign on the property: “Nothing of Consequence.” Nothing of consequence, my arse!

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