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Chapter 18: Drakefyre's Plan

Chapter 18: Drakefyre's Plan

Drakefyre was about to shut and lock the door between the Avernum 4 Forum and the Announcements Forum when Filth Finder stopped him.

"Wait! Wait!" Filth Finder dashed out of the shadows of the Avernum 4 Forum and into the Announcements Forum. "There's something down there."

"The rats? We know. We're discussing what to do with them right now. You're welcome to stay up here until we take care of them," Drakefyre said.

"But my mate... Garbage Gatherer... they killed her. Is there any way to...?"

"Check with Zorro and the mages. They might be able to help," Drakefyre said.

"Okay." Filth Finder scurried off.


In the Tech Support Forum, Dikiyoba was making potions to replenish the ones that Dikiyoba had used up during the ambush. Randomizer entered.

"Is there any graymold I could have?"

Dikiyoba rummaged through a chest. "The supply of graymold is getting low. Dikiyoba will need to collect more once the rats are gone. Here." Dikiyoba handed Randomizer a chunk of slimy graymold.

"Thanks," Randomizer said.

Filth Finder entered.

"A GIFTR! We don't see you around too often. What do you need?" Randomizer asked.

"I'm looking for someone who can help me revive my mate Garbage Gatherer. Drakefyre said to check with Zorro and the mages."

"Well, we're busy at the moment, Zorro doesn't like to be bothered, and Garbage Gatherer doesn't have an element, so it would be tricky, but we could certainly try," Randomizer said.

"Oh, thank you," Filth Finder said.

Ephesos entered. "Dikiyoba, do you have that balm of life potion that I asked for ready yet?"

"Yes." Dikiyoba tossed it to him.

"On second thought, maybe Ephesos would be willing to do it," Randomizer said.

"Do what?" Ephesos asked. He noticed Filth Finder. "Oh. Hello."

"Could you revive Garbage Gatherer?" Filth Finder asked.

"Well, I... why can't one of the mages do it, Randomizer?" Ephesos asked.

"We're busy at the moment. Plus, there aren't that many open elements left, so it would make sense if we saved the remaining ones until we absolutely have to use them," Randomizer said.

"Very well. I'll do it. You'll have to lead me there, um... what is your name?" Ephesos said.

"Filth Finder. Thank you very much. I just need a spot to leave my children. I don't want to take them down where the rats are again."

"Just leave them in General. They should be fine." Randomizer opened the door to the General Forum and left.

Filth Finder poked his head into the General Forum and backed away quickly. "Oh no. The light is too bright and there are too many people."

In the General Forum, Nioca was the only one who noticed Filth Finder's quick entrance and exit. "What was that?" he asked.

"What was what?" Garrison asked.

"Some kind of giant bug," Nioca said.

"That was one of the GIFTR," Randomizer said.

"GIFTR?" Nioca asked.

"Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking Roaches," Garrison said.

"I've never seen one up close before. I hope it doesn't mind if I get a close look at it." Nioca entered the Tech Support Forum.

Filth Finder looked over the equipment side of the Tech Support Forum. "This looks like a much nicer spot. It's dark and there are plenty of nice hiding spots. No one will disturb them here, right?"

"I can't imagine anyone would," Ephesos said.

"Dikiyoba will be here for a while, so Dikiyoba can tell anyone who comes looking for equipment that they're there."

Filth Finder set all the nymphs from his back onto the ground. "I have to go now, but I'll be back shortly. Be good and don't go too far. And remember, Crud Collector, tag does not involve beating up your brothers and sisters."

"Well, it should," Crud Collector said.

"Ready?" Ephesos asked.

"Where are you going?" Nioca asked, "Can I come along?"

Ephesos sighed. "To the Avernum 4 Forum. You can come along if you'd like, I suppose."

"I think I will," Nioca said.

"Lead the way, Filth Finder," Ephesos said.


In the Moderator Board, all the moderators sat at the table while Drakefyre spoke.

"So here's the situation. Geneforge 4: Rebellion will be released in just a few days. Before that happens, we must defeat the rats, get rid of the snow around the message board, and finish the Geneforge 4 Forum. The rats are the most pressing issue, so let's start there. Dintiradan, the Lurker, and Wanderer built a machine that can summon creatures from games with Zephyr Tempest's help. They killed Zephyr Tempest and hid the summoning machine in the Blades of Avernum Forum. Smoo summoned rats from his scenario Rats Aplenty. He has not been seen since. Presumably, he is dead or a prisoner of the rats," Drakefyre said.

"How do we know he isn't leading the rats?" Arancaytar asked.

"Now why would he do that?" Delicious Vlish asked.

"That is a possibility, though not a very likely one. However, it brings up a good point. Some of the rats have the ability to take on the form of humans," Drakefyre said.

"Some wererats got summoned too?" Arancaytar said.

"Apparently so. Anyway, one of them disguised itself as Smoo and led Alorael and some others into an ambush. The rats may try a similar technique again," Drakefyre said.

"What's to stop the wererats from pretending to be a different Spiderwebber? If they can disguise themselves as Smoo, they can probably disguise themselves as anyone," Imban said.

"Unfortunately, I don't know how the wererats transform themselves. It may be that they need actual contact with someone to take on their form, or it may be that they only need to see someone to disguise themselves as that person. But, yes, we need to watch out for other imposters," Drakefyre said.

There was a knock on the door.

"Who is it?" Drakefyre asked.

"Ephesos, with Filth Finder and Nioca. We're ready to go to the Avernum 4 Forum. Oh, and the snow has stopped."

Drakefyre left the Moderator Board and unlocked the door to the game boards. "Glad to hear about the snow. Do you happen to know why it stopped?"

"Not yet," Ephesos said.

"That door doesn't look strong enough to keep the rats from breaking through," Nioca said.

"It won't stop a determined attack. But it will keep them busy long enough to prepare. And hopefully we'll be ready to attack them first. Now, I'm locking the door behind you. When you're done, knock and I'll let you back. Obviously, you won't have a quick escape, so don't let the rats sneak up on you. If you see a large group of them, forget what you're doing and come back, or else you'll risk getting cut off."

Ephesos checked to make sure he still had the balm of life potion and also a sharp dagger. "Right."

Nioca looked nervous. "Understood, I guess."

When Filth Finder, Ephesos, and Nioca had left, Drakefyre locked the door again and returned to the Moderator Board. "Where was I?"

"Wererats," Arancaytar said.

"Right. Besides wererats, there are giant rats, mung rats, green rats that fire powerful curse rays, blue rats that are slow but incredibly tough..." Drakefyre said.

"I'll say. I had to shoot one twice. Twice! Nothing should be able to survive my snipage," Alorael said.

" rats that are fast but not all that dangerous, and white rats that can cast a few basic spells. There may also be gargantuan rats, which are presumably just extremely large, but I haven't seen any yet. Any strategy come up with to combat the rats has to take all their abilities into account."

"I say we let the fluffy turtles loose on the rats. Surely they must have even a tiny bit of sanity that the turtles so desperately need," Saunders said.

"That may drive the rats back, but it won't stop them. The only way to do that is to destroy the summoning machine," Drakefyre said.

"How do we do that?" Imban asked.

"It will be difficult. I've spoken with Zephyr Tempest about the design of it, and it is very sturdy. It can't be turned off or unplugged. There's no easily-sabotaged power source. The orders can't be canceled and the scenario cannot be removed. It's warded against magic and there is an energy shield that comes up to protect it from physical damage," Drakefyre said.

"It sounds like our resident Evil Overlord was very through," Saunders said.

"Unfortunately so," Drakefyre said.

"So how do we destroy the machine, then?" Arancaytar asked.

"I'll get to that. But first, are we all in agreement that the summoning machine should be destroyed? All in favor?" Drakefyre asked.

Everyone raised their hands.

"If it involves sniping and skribbane, I'm in," Alorael said.

"We can always rebuild it later, though not so strong, of course," Schrodinger said.

"Good. Then that's settled," Drakefyre said, "The energy shield uses energy very rapidly. If we were persistent in our attempts to destroy it, the power would give out and the shield would go down. Then the machine would be vulnerable to physical damage. Still, it could take a while. It's strongly built."

"Wouldn't the summoning stop once the power is drained?" Khoth asked.

"No. The energy shield is powered separately from the rest of the summoning machine," Drakefyre said.

"Hold on, Drakey. Are you suggesting that we somehow sneak a group of Spiderwebbers to the summoning machine--which is likely to be heavily guarded--and have them hold off the rats (including the ones that are always being summoned) long enough to drain the energy shield and destroy the machine?" Arancaytar asked.

"No," Drakefyre said.

"Good," Arancaytar said.

"We have to locate the summoning machine first before we can do anything with it. That's the first thing the mages will be looking for once the scrying pool is complete," Drakefyre said, "Once we've got the location, we can release the fluffy turtles to keep the bulk of the rats busy. Then we can send a group in to destroy the summoning machine. Does anyone else have any suggestions?"

Alorael nudged Arancaytar. "Why don't you show off your PHP skills and use the Pied Piper Project against the rats?"

"What!? How would I do that?" Arancaytar asked. "I can't even get to Ermarian with all the snow outside."

"Ephesos said the snow stopped," Imban said.

"It's still too deep for me to get there. And what happens when the snow starts to melt?" Arancaytar asked.

"Relax, Arancaytar." Drakefyre walked over to the Administrator Panel and made a few adjustments. "Spiderweb has flood protection. It'll hold. Does anyone have anything else they want to say?"

No one said anything.

"Then we can go back to General and tell everyone what we decided. I know it's not the best plan, but it appears to be the only one we have. One last thing--someone has to stay in the Announcements Forum to unlock the door for Ephesos, Nioca, and the GIFTR when they return," Drakefyre said.

"I'll do it," Alorael said.