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Chapter 40: Cleaning Up

Chapter 40: Cleaning Up

Slartucker, Schrodinger, and Drakefyre slowly watched the water recede from the Blades of Exile Forum.

"We'll be lucky if all this water is gone by the time Geneforge 4 is released, let alone have them dried out and cleaned up," Slartucker said.

Schrodinger shrugged. "Most new arrivals will stay in the Geneforge 4 Forum for a while. They won't even notice."

Slartucker said, "Do you know what will happen to this copy of Ocean Bound once we're done here, Drakefyre? If it springs a leak..."

"I have a plan for it, yes," Drakefyre said, "Just wait and see."


Nikki used his shovel to tip a few dead rats into the hole he had just finished digging. Then he filled in the hole. As he turned to walk away, he slipped and fell into the mud. He got up, grumbling, "This is ridiculous."

Delicious Vlish hovered a foot above the muddy ground. He looked over the forum carefully. The rats were gone and everything was about as good as it could get until the forum dried out a bit. "All right, this place looks good. For now."

"Finally!" Nikki would have been the first into the Announcements Forum, but he slipped and fell into the mud again. Marlenny paused to help him up and hand him a towel so he could clean himself off.

Stareye, Arancaytar, and Mysterious Man were in the Announcements Forum. Stareye was adding Arancaytar's handprint to the security system so he could get into the Moderator Board.

"So, I still get backdoor access, right?" Mysterious Man asked.

"I'm afraid not," Stareye said.

"But I used to be a mod!"

"I'm sorry, but not anymore."

"Fine." Mysterious Man stalked off.

Everyone from the Geneforge 4: Rebellion Forum passed by. Stareye quickly sought out the Spiderwebbers he was looking for.

"Dintiradan, Wanderer, the Lurker, would you stay a moment, please?"

The three of them stopped and waited for everyone else to leave.

"What do you want? Remember what you said earlier; you can't punish us for anything," Dintiradan said.

"That's true. But I can make you stay and clean up all the mud that people tracked into this forum out of the goodness of your hearts," Stareye said.

"I don't have any goodness in my heart," Dintiradan said.

Stareye handed Dintiradan a mop. "Oh, but I think you do."

Stareye and Arancaytar walked into the Tech Support Forum before Dintiradan could respond.

Dintiradan handed the mop to Wanderer. "Great. Just great. I should be plotting how to convince all the lurkers that will come out for the release of G4 to join my Legion of Terror, not cleaning things."

The Lurker grabbed a second mop and joined Wanderer. "You know, I've been thinking. Being evil is fun. Well, right now it isn't, but most of the time it is. I want to rejoin your Legion of Terror."

"Why should I let you?" Dintiradan asked.

"Because right now your only other follower is Wanderer. Besides, I brought you Homeland."

Dintiradan thought for a moment. "Hmm. That is true. All right, you're back in."

"Yay!" the Lurker said.


In the General Forum, Nikki wiped the last of the mud off of himself. "Hey, Stareye, I have a great idea. You know how in all the games, whenever you kill something, their body disappears and only a bloodstain is left behind? These boards should work like that too. That way we don't always have to do something with the bodies every time we get attacked."

"It would clear up what happens to our old bodies once we get revived," Tyranicus said.

"And it will make it easier to loot stuff because all their stuff ends up directly on the ground to be picked up," the Mystic said.

"But then how do we deal with the bloodstains?" Stareye asked.

"I don't know," Nikki said, "But I think they fade with time."

"I'll think about it," Stareye said.


Alorael hammered on the outside door. "This isn't funny! Let me in! What if a pedestrian comes by while I'm stuck out here? Come on, Drakey, Stareye, let me in!"

Alorael paused and waited. When there was no response, he slumped to the ground and consoled himself with a bottle of skribbane.

A short while later, Jewels returned to the message board with the Periodic Table of Spiderwebbers tucked under her arm. "What are you doing out here?" she asked in surprise.

"I've been banned for some unknown reason. Isn't it horrible?"

"Don't worry, I'll talk to Drakefyre and Stareye for you." Jewels took down the sign, opened the door and stepped inside.

"Hey, Jewels," Lazarus said, "Where have you been?"

Jewels hung the chart back on the wall. "I had the Periodic Table of Spiderwebbers laminated. No one will be able to mess with my chart again. Oh, and Stareye, Alorael is... Stareye? Where'd he go?"

Stareye had mysteriously slipped out of the General Forum while Jewels had hung up the chart.


Meanwhile, Drakefyre, Schrodinger, and Slartucker had moved into the Blades of Avernum Forum and were examining the cave the rats had used. Schrodinger was taking the summoning machine apart for later inspection. Drakefyre destroyed all the notes and equipment that had created the perfect rat. Slartucker searched the rest of the caves for anything interesting.

Drakefyre burned the last few pages of notes as Slartucker entered.

"I searched the rest of the caves. Nothing."

Schrodinger entered the labratory as well. "I've got the summoning machine all boxed up. All we have to do is carry it out of here."

"You two do that. I'll check on the lower forums again," Drakefyre said.

Slartucker and Schrodinger each grabbed a box and started carrying it back. Along the way, they ran into Dikiyoba.

"What are you doing here?" Slartucker asked.

"Dikiyoba is collecting alchemical herbs for more potions."



The GIFTRs were in the Tech Support Forum, piling all the equipment they had found against the wall, when Schrodinger, Slartucker, and Dikiyoba entered.

Slartucker set his box down. "What are you doing?"

"We're helping clean up," Filth Finder said.

"I can that. It's just not very organized," Slartucker said.

"Well, it's hard to get everything in a nice neat stack when you don't have opposable thumbs!" Litter Locater chirped.

"Don't be rude," Garbage Gatherer said, "Anyway, we've done what we could. We're off to the Avernum 4 Forum now."

The GIFTRs scuttled off.

Dikiyoba sorted through the mess until Dikiyoba found enough alchemical equipment to begin potion making.


Drakefyre entered the Blades of Exile Forum. The water was just about gone. He picked up Ocean Bound and carried it into the lower forums. The Avernum Trilogy and Exile Trilogy Forums were choking masses of steam now that enough water was gone for the pools of lava to flow again. He hurried through them as quickly as possible. Then he entered the Nethergate Forum and sighed. The flood damage was so bad that it was clear an entire overhaul and redesign was necessary. What hadn't been destroyed in the initial rush of water was waterlogged and warped. Next, Drakefyre examined the Richard White Games Forum. It was dry, almost as if the flood had receded two weeks ago from next Tuesday instead of just moments ago. Then Drakefyre peered into the SubTerra Forum and saw that it was still completely flooded. He dropped Ocean Bound into it and headed back towards the General Forum.


Dintiradan examined the Announcements Forum floor. "It looks clean."

"Oh, good." The Lurker set his mop down. Wanderer followed suit.

Drakefyre crossed the forum, leaving as much mud on the floor as he could.

"Hey! What was that for?" Dintiradan demanded.

Drakefyre paused, walked back towards Dintiradan (leaving more mud on the floor in the process), and handed the mop to Dintiradan. "So you can do your fair share of the clean up work. Wanderer, the Lurker, follow me."

"But... but..." The Lurker hesitated.

"Do you really want to mop some more? Come on," Wanderer whispered.

Wanderer and the Lurker followed Drakefyre and Dintiradan was left alone. He grumbled as he halfheartedly dipped the mop into a bucket of water and began mopping.


In the corner of the General Forum, Jumpin' Salmon and Andraste were talking.

"So, where did you learn how to wield those clubs of yours?" Jumpin' Salmon asked.

"From the Kingdom of Loathing," Andraste said.

"Uh-huh. That doesn't sound pleasant at all," Jumpin' Salmon said.

Kingy overheard them as he grabbed another beer. "No, it's a fun game."

Andraste and Jumpin' Salmon continued to talk as the first newbie entered Spiderweb Software Forum.

"...if I play as a turtle tamer, I can control the fluffy turtles, right?" Salmon said.

"I'm afraid not, but if..." Andraste said.

"Hi! Welcome to Spiderweb Software. Leave your sanity at the door!" Nioca said.

The newbie put his sanity in a nearby jar. "Um, hello. I... I heard that Geneforge 4: Rebellion will be released soon?"

"It will be. We were waiting for the Geneforge 4 Forum to dry out a bit, but it's done that now," Drakefyre said.

"Let's go there, then!" MagmaDragoon struggled to stand up in his armor and made a clanky exit. Many other Geneforge fans followed him. The newbie hesitated.

"Oh, and there's someone out there. I don't really know who he is but he called himself Alorael. He was complaining about being banned or something."

Drakefyre feigned surprise. "Oh, really? What an awful mistake. I'll go fix that right away." Drakefyre left.

The newbie followed the stragglers down to the Geneforge 4: Rebellion Forum.

Nikki looked around at those who were left. "So, now what do the rest of us do?"

"We design for BoA!" Ephesos got up and left. Lazarus, Niemand, Nemesis, and a few others followed.

"And what are the rest of the rest of us supposed to do?" Nikki asked.

"...pulverize antiques," Andraste said.

"Ooh, that sounds like fun," Jumpin' Salmon said.

"It is. And..." Andraste said.

"Hey, Kelandon, you know that slith poetry you've been working on? Why don't you recite some of that?" Marlenny asked.

Kelandon coughed nervously. "Well, okay. This is written in one of the most ancient dialects of the slithzerakai language. It's so old that it was practically forgotten when the sliths of Bahssikava..."

"We get the idea. Just give us the poetry!" Jewels said.

Kelandon looked even more nervous. "Well, okay. Here goes..." He recited a few lines.

Halfway through the first stanza, Nikki leapt up. "Poetry! It's beautiful! I love you, Kel!" He hugged Kelandon.

"What!? Hey, get away from me!" Kelandon said.

Arancaytar sighed in relief. "Good. Maybe he'll forget about me."

"Moxious!" Jumpin' Salmon yelled. Everyone turned to look at him. "What? Can't you see we're having a private conversation here?"