Chapter 27: Entertainment Value

Drakefyre, Zeviz, and Alorael joined Shard of Fire, Archmage Alex, Lord Grimm, and the Silent Assassin outside. Drakefyre and Zeviz marked out the best locations to create barriers. Meanwhile, Alorael searched buildings for the best window to snipe from.

A Google vehicle arrived at the station. Shard of Fire jumped at the unexpected noise. The trap she was working on went off. Confetti and starving weevils flew everywhere. The weevils promptly attacked Lord Grimm.

"Get them off! Get them off!"

The Silent Assassin rushed over to drive the weevils away.

Goldenking was the first one to step out of the Google vehicle. "Okay, wow. What just happened here?"

"Don't move. There are traps set everywhere," Drakefyre said, "Archmage Alex, can you guide them back to Spiderweb?"

"Not a problem."

Suddenly, Goldenking fell over dead.

"Alorael!" Drakefyre yelled.

"Sorry! The confetti confused me! It won't happen again!" Alorael called down.

Zeviz sighed. He summoned some gold and handed it to Archmage Alex. "Make sure this gets to Zephyr Tempest, please."

Drew, Andraste, Marlenny, Niemand, Iffy, and Riibu climbed out of the vehicle as well. Niemand carried a bag of alchemy equipment he and Dikiyoba had managed to rescue from the workshop at Crystal Mountain.

"Hold on. We brought back the barbed wire. Where do you want it to go?" Drew said.

Salmon and Jewels climbed out of the vehicle, carrying the barbed wire between them.

"Ouch! Salmon, hold your end higher!" Jewels said.

"Sorry. Why am I carrying this anyway? Drew was the one who got drunk, not me."

"Drew redeemed himself with the pirates," Andraste said.

"Hmm. It's getting fairly late, so take it back to Spiderweb. We'll get it set up tomorrow," Drakefyre said.

Archmage Alex threaded his way through the traps. "Stick close to me unless you want Mongolian parakeets to tear out your spleen."

---

Filth Finder, Garbage Gatherer, Chrrcht, and the others raced for the portal.

"Do we test the coordinates or use whatever it's currently set to?"

"We both have the URLs we need, right? Whatever it's set to," Garbage Gatherer said.

Someone realized what was happening and raised the alarm. Several guards rushed over to stop them.

"You do realize they'll try to kill us if they think they can't stop us any other way, right?" one of Chrrcht's friends asked.

"Yes, Spider."

One of the guards webbed Chrrcht. He tore through the webs with his powerful forearms. "Don't stop! We'll make it!"

Filth Finder and Garbage Gatherer made it to the portal. It was still set to the alley from earlier. They jumped into the portal.

Another guard grabbed Spider, only to be knocked flat when he was hit by Goo Eater. Spider escaped into the portal.

"How did you catch up to us?"

"i ll tell you later through the portal now exclamation mark" Goo Eater pushed Chrrcht into the portal.

They both landed in a dumpster. Filth Finder and Garbage Gatherer helped them out.

"Will the guards follow us?" Garbage Gatherer asked.

"They will, but it will take them some time to grab recall crystals and get organized," Chrrcht said.

"Well, we're not sticking around, then. Goodbye and the best of luck," Filth Finder said.

"Thanks. You too."

Filth Finder and Garbage Gatherer scurried off.

"So, Goo Eater, tell us how you caught up," Spider said.

Goo Eater shrugged. "just a fast runner i guess"

"What happened to Spider?"

"unconscious"

"And Spider?"

"i hope he s telling everyone he was taken hostage by filth finder like i told him to"

"You had time to tell him that and still catch up to us?" Chrrcht asked, "How?"

Goo Eater shrugged again. "let s head to spiderweb before any guards show up okay question mark"

---

The group from KoL entered the General Forum. Salmon and Jewels left the barbed-wire by the front door.

"What'd we miss? Anything?" Salmon asked, "Hey, what are the rats doing here?"

While several other people explained, Nikki found Nicothodes. "Riibu's back."

"Then let's see what she was doing with my mechanical pencil."

Nikki nodded. "Right." He stepped in front of Riibu.

"Oh. H... hello, Nikki."

"Nico didn't give you her lucky pencil. You stole it. Why?"

"Er, well, um, you see..."

"Watch your back, Riibu. Sheesh, you two, it didn't work the last time either," Arancaytar said.

"Hmmph." Nicothodes put her pencil away.

"Aran? Is that you?" Riibu asked.

"Unfortunately, yes."

"What happened to you?"

"I... er, I'd rather not talk about it. Sorry. So, um, how was KoL? Everything go okay?"

"Oh, I suppose," Riibu said.

"Meh." Nikki nudged Nicothodes. "This is boring. Let's go harass Nioca or something."

---

Dintiradan, the Lurker, Emperor Tullegolar, Azuma, Nalyd, and Jeran Korak still sorted supplies in the Tech Support Forum. Stareye divided his time between watching them and helping Schrodinger with the summoning machine.

Dintiradan checked his watch. "Stareye, it's getting late. Dikiyoba still isn't back. Are you sure you don't want me to be making potions?"

Stareye thought for a minute. "All right, go ahead."

Niemand entered the forum. He left the alchemy supplies by the cabinet of potions. "Dikiyoba wanted me to bring these back. They ran into some problems, so they're going to be away from Spiderweb for a while."

"Excellent," Emperor Tullegolar said quietly. He checked to make sure no one was watching and slipped a venom baton into his pocket. "With any luck, they won't come back at all."

---

Student of Trinity, A'p'd'r, and R'd'p'a arrived at a Google station. They got out of the vehicle and looked around. Most of the nearby buildings were burned out and there was trash everywhere.

"We're definitely in the right spot," A'p'd'r said.

"Yes. I'm not exactly sure where the flamers live, though, so we'll have to hunt for it. Hopefully, we'll find it quickly," Student of Trinity said.

It didn't take long for them to spot two flamers. They approached carefully, using the piles of trash to stay hidden. The flamers were arguing over who had to carry a damaged spambot back to their message board.

"Perfect," Student of Trinity said, "We'll just follow them."

One of the flamers punched the other. The resulting explosion obliterated everything but a few charred spambot parts.

R'd'p'a sighed. "Or not."

---

Inthejaro Mountain stood at the edge of the Distant Mountains. It was a sunny day and butterflies fluttered tipsily from one flower to the next. Duwithia and Coleridge sat on a mossy boulder. The file cabinet and crates of finished crystals from Crystal Mountain sat a few feet away. Higher up, the yetis all crowded around a whiskey spring.

Duwithia sighed. "Well, we knew that had to come sooner or later. I just wish we had more time. If we left anything behind, there's at least one Spiderwebber there who might find it. And if Spiderweb finds out about us..."

Coleridge shrugged. "We've had closer calls and never left anything behind. We'll be fine."

Duwithia looked around nervously. "What are you doing? If someone heard you talking, it would give us both away."

"Oh, there's no one out here but us and a bunch of drunk yetis."

"We cannot be careless. It was a miracle we escaped in the first place, and if they find us, they'll... they'll..." Duwithia shuddered.

Coleridge blinked and waved her hand.

"Right. Well, we need all those crystals now that we've lost the mine. You tell the ninjas their services are no longer needed. I'll send letters to our other customers. Then we hide our supplies somewhere safe and change our identities again--names, IPs, the whole 128 bits. We'll see what turns up after that."

Coleridge gestured.

"Yes, I'll make sure you end up with an identity that can speak this time around."

---

It was just past midnight when Alorael woke Slartucker up.

"What is it?" Slartucker asked.

Alorael grinned. "Head upstairs. You'll see in a moment."

Slartucker sighed. "This cannot be a good sign." Slartucker entered the guard tower. Randomizer was already there, staring out into the darkness. "Do you see anything?"

"Not yet," Randomizer said.

Alorael entered with Arancaytar.

"Exactly what is going on here?" Arancaytar asked.

"It should be apparent any moment now," Alorael said.

"Wait, I see someth... oh no." Randomizer folded his arms across his chest. "Not more friendly roaches."

Slartucker caught sight of Chrrcht and his friends approaching as well. "And friendly chitrachs too. Gah. Well, we'll just have to--"

"A spider!" Arancaytar shrieked and hid beneath the table.

"Come on, Alorael, do us all a favor and snipe them now," Randomizer said.

Alorael took a sip of skribbane and giggled madly. "Oh no. If they're coming here, I think keeping them alive will prove far more entertaining."