That ceremony I mentioned at the beginning of the last entry went about as well as it possibly could, oddly enough. After a boring ceremony in which I recited the lines customary for this sort of thing (what they were, I have no idea, as they were all in that damnable devil-speak everyone uses when they donít want me to know things), there was a bit of a party reception thingy, where I got to say hi to Decker, shuffle awkwardly away from Kal, and spend as much time as possibly spouting the usual line of heroic hogwash thatíd made me such a big deal to whatever high-ranking folk happened to want to hear it. I donít think I was too obvious about the fact that I was deliberately avoiding Lady Morgana and exploiting every opportunity to be on the opposite side of the room at all times, but Iím sure she figured it out eventually, since there was a dead blue cat nailed to my office door when I finally got home. I hope sheís not too upset by the fact that Iím scared to death of her and everything that has anything to do with her.
Oh! Speaking of death, letís jump right back to that Libby stuff! I know youíre probably dying to hear about how I cleverly figured out she was a succubus in disguise and then murdered her face off before she could drain any more experience levels out of me, or whatever it is that succubi do when not sexing people to oblivion. Well to be honest, when youíre as paranoid and clever and awesome as I am, and know all the warning signs, itís actually pretty easy to tell a succubus is disguising themselves as someone you know. Physical contact with her made me feel weak, there seemed to be some sort of attractiveness aura thingy about her that normally wasnít there, and she actually wasnít a succubus at all.
ÖYeah. She ummÖshe wasnít really a succubus. Or an erinyes. Or even an incubus, for that matter. Or any other kind of devil or demon thingy, as it turned out. It was Libby. I shot Libby five times in the face, thinking she was a succubus out to get me. Honestly, I donít think Iíve ever felt quite as stupid as I did right then and there, back in that cavern. x=
"Private Godlark, what in the blue blazes did you just do?! I thought you said she was our best chance of getting out of here! What the ****ing double-****, man?!"
"Itís not Libby, itís a succubus spy, duh! Watch! She'll turn red any second now. Aaaany secoooond noooow. See, red!
...No wait, that's blood."
Yeeeeeeeah, I kinda really screwed that one up, didnít I? To be perfectly fair though, I hadnít expected a gun to hurt anything more significant than Libbyís feelings, if it turned out to actually be her. Yíknow, what with her being a goddess of death and all. She admitted long ago that she was perfectly capable of dying, but implied that it had to be pre-ordained by fate, or with a suitably super-amazing magical death-sword of mass destruction. Or at least, I thought she implied it. I vaguely recalled hearing something about it being polite to close the eyelids of the deceased, so I knelt down to do that. It was the least I could do, given what a horrible mistake Iíd just made. I was going to let her have a moment of silence, too, when that same swearing jerkface critic spoke up again.
"Private Godlark, if itís not too much trouble, would you mind assuming Iím a succubus spy too? I mean, seeing as Iíve only got one arm and the enemyís going to tear right through me if we-"
He quite literally asked for it, so I figured it would be alright. It wasnít quite as humiliatingly terrible as my last execution was, either. Plus, his voice was kinda grating, and the criticism of the whole Libby thing was really getting on my nerves. I mean, itís not like I wasnít already mentally beating myself to death over that little screw-up. It meant I was the last person on our end of the tunnel who was still conscious, and completely on my own now against a swarm of approaching devil-things, but really, Iíd more or less accepted that as my fate the moment I smelled that fireball hurtling towards us.
"Hello? Anyone down there? Iím errÖkinda the only one left alive here, so if you guys are the sort who take prisoners, would you let me know now? Yíknow, so we donít have to-"
A bolt of bright blue aetherial energy whizzed right past my ear, simultaneously answering my question and exploding the chest of one of the guys I thought mightíve had a chance, if we were to somehow get out of here and find a hospital. Bad luck for him, I guess. Seeing as weíre in Hell, though, Iíve no doubt he somehow found a way to deserve it.
"Oooooh, aaaaugh, you got me! Donít even bother coming down here to finish the job or confirm that I got shot! Gods, so much blood everywhere! Iím pretty much dead already, aaargh!"
Another bolt of blue magical energy shot past. Something told me they werenít buying it. Shutting off my left eyeís usual gleaming crimsons light, which would both ensure Iíd be a harder target, and deny me any sort of depth perception, I pulled myself up against the nearest cave wall, taking care to stand parallel to the surface, and not accidentally impale my stupid ass on the wall a second goddamn time. I fired a few bolts from the clockwork pistol into the general direction of the darkness-enclosed hunters coming to personally execute me, praying to a multitude of gods that I knew didnít like me, hoping that the teleport-blocking spell still held, and that my gun would still prove as ludicrously super-effective against them as it had against poor Libby. Luck alone had kept me alive this long, and luck alone would have to see me through these next few moments.
Curiously enough, it actually did. I know, it sounds weird coming from me, since nothing ever goes my way, especially not in situations like this, but somehow, I actually managed to shoot those sorry bastards dead! I suppose the fact that in the darkness, I didnít need to worry about aiming probably helped, given what an atrocious shot I usually am. Given all the outbreaks and emergencies back in my old lair, I suppose cave-fighting was something Iíd gotten used to as well, so there was that. All in all though, thereís no denying that my victory came down to pure chance. Iím not exactly a small target, thanks to that stupid whale-stabbing stick in my diaphragm, but the most I got was a bit of shrapnel to my left side, when one of those magical missiles detonated against the wall I was crouched up against.
Emboldened by the sudden lack of blue fiery garbage being hurled my way, I pressed onwards. At this point, my only hope of survival lie in somehow taking down this entire enemy camp all on my own, followed by digging through everyoneís stuff in the hopes that someone owned a portal device that even a magically illiterate doofus like myself could use to get back to what could charitably be called Ďhomeí these days.
"Gah! What the bear-loving son of a *****?! ****!"
Unfortunately, that same confidence only lasted about twelve seconds, when I went and tripped over one of the succubi Iíd just finished shooting full of holes. My harpoon threw off my balance just enough to cause me to go flailing off to one side, and when I finally got up, there was some inexplicable added weight on the pointy end of my torso-piercing, which I was later to discover was the decapitated head of one of those devils. When I got home, everyone just assumed Iíd put it there on purpose, as some sort of macabre trophy from my amazing adventure, and somehow managed to not notice me jumping up and screaming like a scared little girl the moment I found myself a mirror.
As terribly clumsy as that mightíve been, and horrendously terrifying as it would be later on, I knew I still had to keep going. We were told there was a lot more than three or four measly scouts down here, so I didnít let my earlier victory count for too much. Vain I might be, but I donít let my egomania completely distort reality (just most of reality, of course).
I did have the element of surprise again, though. Unless these infernal bastards had some sort of telepathy system in place, that little posse sent ahead to check for survivors and steal our stuff and whatnot wouldnít be expected for at least another five minutes, maybe longer. Creeping around in the dark, I just had to make sure the harpoon didnít bump into anything. It was easy enough, given all the practice my cowardice had given me in doing exactly that whenever I needed to visit AMEN without having my skull bashed in by an unruly sentient cantaloupe. I just had to pray nobody had any sort of reason to come down here, and notice the faint little glow my eye was giving off again. As much as I wanted it off, I knew I hadnít a chance of walking down these tunnels without it, as Iíd be clanging around and crashing into everything the whole trip. Luckily, not a single soul seemed to be anywhere near this part of the cavern.
The encampment was pretty far into the mountainside, most likely in case anyone tried to do a recon sweep of the area (tough luck with that one, guys). Or maybe it was because of the shiny luminescent crystal thingies sticking out of the walls. Save them the trouble of having to light the place, at the expense of leaving plenty of dark spots for potential infiltrators to go sneaking around. Sometimes I marvel at my good fortune. Then I remember that I shot an amorous, death goddess in the face for trying to rescue me, and how fudged up it is that I wound up in situations like this in the first place. I swear, if I ever meet a luck deity, Iím going to shoot that fudger to pieces. Right in the motherfudging nose.
The place was pretty Spartan, really. There were tents here and there, a few fires, and some people with ridiculous-looking horns on their heads milling about obliviously. Nothing at all like the big olí Clockwork Fortress Iíd been hanging out in only a little while ago. I tried to figure out which one mightíve been the command tent, but what little ornamentation these shelters had seemed to consist entirely of those stupid devil-language rune symbols I knew nothing about. Motherfudging boot camp bastards, not once did it ever occur to them that literacy might actually help me stay alive in their stupid jerkface warzones! D=<
I stuck to the shadows as best as I could, eventually deciding that this big olí purple tent was the one most likely to house their command staff and leaderly junk, and inched my way towards it. If my luck held out (which obviously wasnít going to happen, of course), Iíd be able to sneak right up on their sergeant or whatever, put my gun to his head and hold the fudger hostage, and scream and yell just long enough for them to teleport the two of us back to the Clockwork Fortress, at which point Iíd turn the guy in for interrogations, and promptly collapse on the floor with as much dignity and grace as I could muster.
Well, the good news is that I was right about the tent holding the leader of this particular segment of Malachís rebels. The bad news was that we were already previously acquainted. I leapt forward the moment he stepped too close to the edge of the tent, but he mustíve known I was coming, because all I got for my troubles was an inhumanly swift chrome fist right to the nose.
"Weíve been expecting you, Harpoontok. I have to say Iím surprised, though. Isnít trying to murder me against your silly little laws?"
"Says the pot to the kettle. Didnít you just throw like six of your stupid lackeys into that tunnel to try to kill me?"
"Well yeah, but you survived, didnít you? And werenít you paying attention at all to what I said? Theyíre your little laws, Britney Spears. Not mine."
The purple-robed menace grinned at me, presenting a hideous mouthful of fangs. I had to be honest with myself, the Britney Spears crack was actually pretty clever, but there was no way Iíd give that red-skinned treasonous bastard the privilege of even the faintest of smiles cross my face.
"Not to sound clichť, but why donít you join me, ĎPoony? I know I tried to kill you and all, but youíve stopped me from doing so pretty handily, and seeing as you made it this far all on your own, youíre clearly not one of those lame-ass pushover clones we feast on every so often. Itíll be fun, too. I can keep you out of the crummy suicide missions like this one, make sure your talents actually go to some use, and maybe after you sneak back to Morgana and hook us up with some Clockwork blueprints, I can pull some strings and even set you up with these kickass magical superpowers and junk."
As if to demonstrate, this forked-tongue, heretical bastard lifted right into the air, a quartet of ragged-looking, repulsive, leathery dragonfly wings keeping him suspending him off the ground. Hellfire crackled in his left hand, and his right he held a trident burning with the same blasphemous energies. I could hardly believe my eyes. This was a MagClone once. A good, loyal, hard-working cyborg acting in our best interests, sticking to our principles and obeying the closest thing we had to commandments. Looks like he was under the impression that, like marriage, there was a 'death do us part' clause to Magtokdom.
"So how about it, Harpoontok? I mean, weíre both dead now anyways, itís not like anyoneís coming to save us or cull us or anything. Might as well throw off the silly old yoke and live a little."
As repulsive as he mightíve been, I had to admit he had a sort of point. I followed the rules, and look where it got me? Iíd been dead for more than a month already, fudging harpooned to death of all things, and as exotic as my death mightíve been, the rest of the MagCollective had almost certainly forgotten all about me weeks ago. Down here, there was no MagPolice or anything to monitor my actions for culling-worthy crimes, to make sure I didnít act like a whore, use magic, splice my DNA with goblin blood, or eat babies, so itís not like those rules had any relevance anymore. Down here, nobody cared who Magtok was. We were spread out amongst so many different afterlives, so many heavens and hells and limbos and whatever that our usual strength of numbers and hive mind unity just didnít exist anymore, and without that, we were only a little bit better than everybody else. I was starting to wonder if maybe he had a point, if I really needed to go so far to survive in these horrid conditions, when his raspy chuckles filled the air once more.
"Oh, and great job taking down Libby, by the way. I saw the whole thing on one of the tiny spy cameras we put down that hall. Fudging hilarious."
ÖThatís it, I decided right then and there, fist clenching at my side. The MagDevil dies.