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Chapter 10: Collapse

Chapter 10: Collapse

"ARCANE SUMMON!!!" Zephyr Tempest yelled again.

Duck dodged under a bot and out of the battle. He ran down side streets until he was thoroughly lost and the bots were well behind him. Still, he kept running.

Meanwhile, Jeran Korak charged empty-handed at a bot. It stepped aside and he cannoned straight into the bot about to stab Tyranicus again. Tyranicus ran off as quickly as he could. The bot that had stepped aside chased after him.

A while later, Danielle found Duck. "Hey! You can stop running now. It's safe."

Duck halted. "Okay then. Now what?"

"Dintiradan told me there is a Google station nearby." Danielle gave him directions. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go look for any other survivors." She dashed off.

After several minutes of wandering, Duck managed to find the Google station. Zephyr Tempest was watching for bots. He nodded towards Duck. Riibu slumped on the ground. A few red rats and a green rat waited nervously. Arancaytar flew back and forth, muttering to himself. Dintiradan and the Lurker tended to Stareye and Alorael well away from the others.

A minute later, Tyranicus staggered into the area and collapsed. A bottle fell out of his mouth and rolled across the ground. Arancaytar hurried over and picked it up. It was a healing potion. Arancaytar pulled the cork off and helped Tyranicus drink it.

"Where did that come from?" Zephyr Tempest asked.

"Found it. Couldn't get it open. No hands." Tyranicus tried to stand up, winced, and remained where he was.

"I'm surprised you got away from that bot that was chasing you," Arancaytar said, "Good thing you did."

"Yeah. Lost him--it--somehow."

Arancaytar looked thoughtful. "You know, I'm really surprised so many red rats got killed by the bots. You'd think they'd be better able to escape than the rest of us. It's... strange."

Danielle returned with Phil.

"I found Conikru. He's dead. Anyone else?" she asked.

Arancaytar thought for a moment. "Randomizer and Garzad went out of range a while back, so the only person left is Thuryl." He frowned. "Although I guess I haven't seen him all day. Has anyone seen him?"

Several of the rats shook their heads.

"Nope," Zephyr Tempest said.

"He's probably doing better than us, wherever he is. We, however, need to get out of here," Tyranicus said.

"We can't just leave," Riibu said, "What about everyone else?"

"They're dead. Nothing we can do about that. Unless..." Tyranicus looked at Zephyr Tempest. "I don't know why you can use summoning spells again but apparently you can. Do you still have Galactic Core with you? Can you summon elements?"

"Yes. And..." Zephyr Tempest caught sight of Dintiradan shaking his head frantically. "...not yet. I need more time to practice first."

"Right. So. We need to get out of here," Tyranicus said.

"But Ecksian knows necromancy. What if others end up... end up like Arancaytar?" Riibu asked.

"There's nothing we can do to prevent that. Look, Ecksian is going to figure out we're not dead soon and then the bots won't stop looking for us until we are. What good will we be then? We have to get out of here," Tyranicus said.

"Well, where should we go?" Danielle asked.

There was an awkward silence, broken only when the Lurker looked to Dintiradan. "Hey, don't you...?"

"Shut up!" Dintiradan hissed.

"What is it?" Arancaytar asked.

"Nothing," Dintiradan said quickly.

"No, really. What?"

Dintiradan sighed. "I have a... a message board of my own. Very secret. Well, it was secret until someone opened his big mouth, anyway. I suppose it would be a safe place to go."

"Wait. You're telling me you had somewhere Cheese and the other rats could have hid safely in and you never said anything?" M'lew, the green rat, asked.

"What part of 'secret' don't you understand?"

Arancaytar sighed. "Does it have supplies?"

"Oh yes. I bet I could have Alorael and Stareye back on their feet in no time, in fact," Dintiradan said.

"What happened to them, anyway?" Arancaytar sounded suspicious.

"I don't know for sure. The Lurker and I got cut off in the Announcements Forum when everyone else retreated. Suddenly, the Mod Board opened back up. Alorael stumbled out, carrying Stareye. Then he collapsed too. This distracted the bots long enough for us to fight our way over. We picked them up and ran for the General Forum. I don't know how we managed to evade the bots, but we did. We were also lucky enough to bump into Danielle. She volunteered to search for all of you." Dintiradan still stood apart from the others. "I think it looks like radiation sickness. I don't know what they were trying to do. I guess it went horribly wrong, though."

Arancaytar stared at Dintiradan suspiciously. Dintiradan stared back. Finally, Arancaytar looked away.

"Well, that's it, I guess. We should go to Dintiradan's message board now. Then we'll figure out how to get a message to Cheese and revive everyone," he said.


Ecksian, Eternal Flame, and EcksianBot watched the Spiderweb Software Message Board from a safe distance. The Blades of Exile Forum had collapsed and the entire ceiling was starting to sag inwards. Only a few bots were inside of it now, searching for any survivors or the last bits of loot. Ecksian had already added several good daggers to the collection he had on him.

Some distance away, several bots were burning the bodies of the Spiderwebbers and rats. Ecksian wanted to cut off as many means of resurrection as possible. He also didn't want EcksianBot to stumble across any rat corpses and start remembering things.

A bot carried the body of Conikru over to the fire and threw it on. Strangely enough, it appeared that he had been killed by being knifed from behind rather than by a bot's sword. Then the bot started to walk off.

EcksianBot was the first to hear the rumbling. "Look!"

The General Forum started shaking. Then the forumquake became a boardquake. A few bots managed to stagger out of the message board. Then everyone was knocked off their feet. Large cracks began appearing in the message board and water sloshed out of the moat.

Eternal Flame felt queasy and looked away. Was it just him, or was the collapse happening in more than three dimensions?

Ecksian kept watching. So did the bot.

Finally, all of Spiderweb collapsed with an echoing boom. Only a pile of rubble was left.

There was silence.

Then there was a faint scratching noise. Inspector Walnut hauled himself out from underneath the rubble. His shell was cracked and most of his fluff had been torn off. He growled weakly.

A bot rushed forward to kill him.

Krakoom! A sudden burst of lightning from the rubble killed them both.

There was silence again. Then Ecksian started to laugh. "Finally!"

The bot finally looked away from the fallen message board. Of course, that practically counts as a board upgrade around here, he thought.