Cogflake Cogflake

Feb 27, 2024




Reinventing the Lightbulb - Part 12

Previous - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 11

Zorro liiiiiiicks the fox up the side of the head.

Raziel turns around, and calmly walks back to the group of various vulpines. “Will that suffice?”

Zorro nods to Raziel, “Yep. That’ll do just fine.” The fox stands up, checking to see if his lick managed to rouse the sleeping fox. He smirks at Raziel, “Gotta say, that thing was heavy, but it made me feel like a badass.”

The lick was the trick, and the sleeping fox sputters and wakes up, sitting up slowly. “How….. who are you people? Well, you Viktor, I know, from the cages. Are these your friends?”

Raziel grins at Zorro, “Doesn’t it, though?” He reloads the gun, but keeps it out. “Oh, good. You’re up.” The tiger looks around the room, calculating. “We might as well just head out through the front door. The element of surprise is gone, and the less time we waste trying to fit through that tunnel is less time the guards have to arm themselves.” He extends a paw to the fox to help him up. “What’s your name?”

Zorro takes a couple of steps back, looking over the fox, “You were almost bear food.” He chuckles, “You’ve been studying these people, right?” His eyes flicker in the torchlight, “Maybe you could answer a few questions for us.”

The fox looks at the jackal look-alike and blinks a few times, standing up. He brushes himself off and shakes his head. “Right yes. And you’d be correct. I have come to this place to learn more on this tribe, no doubt Viktor here told you. Now then, I’ll answer your questions later, but now I really don’t think this is the best place to talk. Though the bottle neck might be a good defensive position for that gun of his.” He points his thumb over to Raziel.

Raziel blinks a few times. Such a helpful fox… “Actually…we were hoping to leave /before/ they attempt a counter strike.”

Zorro starts ambling toward the exit as soon as the idea is suggested, “Right! Let’s be on our way, then.”

Viktor looks around the room, frowning at the crudeness of the place. It may be for entertainment, but it’s a cruel form of entertainment. So he waits behind everyone, pulling out one of the larger small forks, twiddling it between his fingers.

The larger fox makes his way over to the entrance, standing next to it. He addresses Raziel, giving a small half-bow and gesturing an arm down the hallway. “If you don’t mind, sir, may you go first?”

Raziel shrugs, and starts to follow Zorro towards the door - then stops, and heads back to the pit. He picks up the spear that the fox was armed with and breaks it in half, discarding the non-pointed end. He climbs back out, and jogs to the group, handing the half-spear to Zorro. “Here. I didn’t want you to feel left out,” the tiger says with a smirk.

Zorro squints a little, and takes it, eying the smirk, “Uhh… thanks, I guess.” He waves the thing around, “Look at me, I feed people who are earnestly interested in me to bears for sport!”

The larger fox chuckles and continues to stand at the door way. “Ah yes, I’ll have to tell you more on that, wont I? No time for that now though, weren’t we just leaving?

Raziel checks his rifle to make sure everything looks good, and proceeds out the door with the others in tow. No more murderous tribals, please… That’s the last thing this day needs - more madness.

Zorro keeps on scurrying after the tiger, talking as he walks, “Well, you can tell us while we’re on the move— the most relevant question is ‘What’s up with the statue’?”

Viktor stays behinds just enough so the three are already well into the tunnel before searching out one of the mortar lines, taking the fork and scraping away some of the mortar, tapping it again shortly after, causing the mortar to disintegrate and fall away, the large stones keeping the roof up starting to collapse, Viktor himself just managing to get away before getting crushed. He slams belly down on the ground, inside the tunnel and out of the way. he stands up and starts to run to reach the group, quickly catching up.

The taller fox nods a bit, and starts his explanation. “Yes, well, you see, the statue is their god. All of them, both groups. Well, more like, a representation of their god, in physical form. Essentially ‘proof’ that this higher being exists, because there is a statue of it. The thing is, it’s just a fancy and rare piece of Svargan decor. But they-“ He’s cut off from the loud crashing behind them, as the roof of the arena falls in, casting a light into the tunnel from the way they came.

Raziel nods as Viktor approaches, but doesn’t stop to admire the handiwork. He just wants to get out of here before every warrior left in the place bears down on them. “Good call, Viktor. No point in them having that place if they just use it to torment people.” The tiger continues to lead the group outside via whatever way seems faster - through the door, or over the rubble.

Zorro rolls over a little, surprised by the crash behind him. He stares at the place in bewilderment. It takes him a moment to realize Viktor did it. “Well. I guess they can’t follow us that way…” He looks to the fox, “…You were saying?”

The other fox blinks and breaths in deep from the destruction, turning away from it quickly. “Ah, right then, yes. See, they don’t believe that, of course, and so they worship it. In fact, I would bet that if a human were to have come, with more effect if they were female, they would all probably bow down in reverence. Interesting yes? A group of pasu with a human as a god. At least in my opinion.”

Raziel blinks a few times as they exit the tunnel. “That’s just…odd.” The tiger shrugs and cracks his neck. “But after all that’s happened, we’re still going to steal it.”

Zorro rubs his face, “You mean to tell me, if we’d just gotten some human girl up in here, she might have been able to take the statue with impunity?” She rolls his eyes, “Quick, Raziel, cut an orange in half, strap it to my chest and shave away my fur. We’re almost home free!”

The fox nods. “Well, yes. In fact, I’m pretty sure she could get away with whatever she wanted, if she were here. And you’re really going to steal it? Whatever for?”

Raziel stares at the fennec. “That has got to be the strangest expression I’ve ever heard.” He slowly turns back to the fox, checking the area as he does so. “We need the metal in order to further the research of a scientist in Meson. We have come A LONG WAY for this.”

Zorro’s eyes go wide and he makes a wide gesture with his arms. Well, as wide as a fennec can. “A loooooong way!” He doesn’t mention how many people have ended up dead in the process. Kinda morbid, if one thinks about it.

Viktor pipes up some. “Aai’ve never been thiz vaahr in my live! Haahz been reaahl excitink for me. “

The fox nods again as the group shuffles into the light, a quick look around showing no guards or attackers of any sort nearby, in visual range anyway, also giving a good look at the other fox. He’s a red fox, though very nearly colored brown from the dust covering his fur, clothed in some tan slacks with multiple pockets on the legs, and a large green vest and a fedora on his head. He’s got see green eyes, and he looks as though he hasn’t had a good meal in many days. “I see… yes…. well, I cannot say I support that action.”

Raziel shrugs. “That may be so…but unless you’d like to see the inside of a cage again soon, I suggest you come with us.” The tiger begins marching back toward the /really/ long tunnel, rifle held at the ready.

Zorro nods, “I wouldn’t expect a researcher to be gung-ho about people taking the keystone of the society you’re studying away. That said…” He turns to look at the bigger fox. “You could have been bear food. So, you know, there’s always that.” He looks to Raziel, “Quark isn’t far from here. We just need to find some human girl who we can convince to go lift the statue for us.” He frowns, “Though that seems like quite a bit of endangerment to place a lady in.”

The red fox nods. “Yeah…. there’s always that. Still though, stealing that statue could tear the whole community apart, sending the cult against the innocent villagers. You’d have the whole village on your heads then.

Zorro blinks, raising an eyebrow, “Why would the cult attack the villagers? What would they gain from doing so? If some human chick jacks their statue, how does that translate to ‘murder a bunch of innocent people’?”

Raziel shakes his head. “Why is nothing ever simple? I just want to get the statue, return to Meson, and get my Illuminator. Is that too much to ask?” Barring any interruptions the tiger should probably be getting close to the entrance of the tunnel, now. “Also, I’m inclined to agree with Zorro. How can they fault their god for stealing itself?”

He blinks and furrows his brow. “Wait, you’re actually going to go get the human? I thought you said you were going to steal it yourselves! Aarrgh, no no, if the human does it, it might all be fine. Just…. I don’t know how you’d do it. It’s not like they’d accept you three as ‘guards’ or an entourage. She’d probably have to snag it herself.”

Zorro is glad the name Illuminator is catching on. He says, “Well, it seems the most sensible way to pull it off at this point. I don’t really see how else we’re going to do it. The trick is finding a human girl who is willing to do it.”

Raziel rummages around in his pockets. “Well…I have some money, if your fennec charms fail… You do have those, right? Fennec charms? I can’t tell.” The tiger relaxes a little as they get farther from the village, and closer to the exit - then he realizes the exit is full of traps and partially blocked by enormous pistons, and tenses up again…

Zorro psssh, “Do I have fennec charms?” He waves a paw, “Do hidden cults feed their guests to bears?” The fox elbows Raziel in the leg, “I’ll see to it.”

Viktor pulls out a few coins as well. “Thiz iz aahll aai haahve levt till ve get baahck to Mezon, zo yoo kaahn uze it, iv yoo need.” He frowns a bit at Raziel’s reactions. “Aahre yoo okaahy? Zometink wrong?”

Raziel looks to Viktor. “Well…we may have broken something on the way in. Something large, and…smashy. We can probably squeeze around it, but…it’s still not a pleasant though, given what we saw it do to that boulder…”

Zorro rubs his muzzle, “I saw earlier this broken wall near the cages. Maybe we could get out through there?”

The red fox shakes his head. “No, that way you have to go around the cliff. I came in that way, it’ll take at least another day to get to the road.”

Raziel sighs. “Oh, good. Mild peril it is, then.” The tiger begins walking down the long corridor, waiting for the others to follow.

Zorro blinks a few times, “Well, it’s a way out, right? I mean…” He sighs. Another day. Another DAY. But it’s also another day to go through the tunnel. They went in under the cover of night and emerged in the daylight. Doesn’t seem like there’s much to lose, “It’s a way out.”

Viktor shrugs, whichever way is fine with him. “Aai don’t mind goink through the pyraahmid. Or aahround the cliff either.”

Raziel looks back at the trio of foxes. “I’ll put it this way; we could go the way that the tribals are understandably terrified of, and unlikely to follow us through, or we could try to out run them on their own territory, and go miles out of the way in the process. I know which I’d choose.”

Zorro blinks, “Well, when you put it /that/ way…”

The other fox just so happens to ignore the conversation and is already inside the tunnel a good ways, only stopping to call back at the group. “Hey! Are you three coming or not?”

Zorro calls out, “Hey, hey! Careful up there, that tunnel’s got booby traps. Or it did. We don’t know if it has more of em!” The fennec sweeps the lower area with his eyes again, moving forward.

Raziel stares at the fox, and glances back to Zorro. “I would have let him figure that out for himself, if he’s going to be snobby about it.” The tiger picks up the same system as before, checking the walls and ceiling as the fennec covers the floor. “Though…I suppose it’s better if we don’t have to drag him back up those stairs…”

Viktor follows on behind, watching the tiger and fox spot along the walls and ceiling as they catch up fairly quickly to the red fox, who is waiting down the corridor. “Zo, traahpz yoo zaahy?”

Zorro sweeps his eyes back and forth, “I’d be mad if we went through all the trouble to save his ass only to get it mushed into paste.” He nods to Viktor, “Yep. Keep your eyes peeled.”

Raziel nods. “We may just be a bit paranoid; Zorro and I made it through fine the first time. But if this trip has proved anything, it’s that just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not after you…” The tiger continues his search, making progress behind the fennec.

The group moves down the hallway to the burned area of the corridor, still as dormant as ever, except the lighter scraped parts where the ash was scooped up to create Zorro’s disguise. Viktor and the fox stop to examine the spot, looking over the horrible melted hallway. “Vaaht haahpened here?”

Zorro headshakes, “Damned if we know. Was like that when we showed up.” He looks over the devices again, “They didn’t seem to turn on when we went through last time. I’m still a bit freaked out about em.”

Raziel looks at them warily. “As am I. But they did supply the ash needed to cover Zorro’s fur. That helped quite a bit. I just never want to see it working…” The tiger takes a long, cautious step through the burned section, glad to be past it.

The burnt place is now behind the group a good ways now, coming up on the hydraulic ceiling and floor sections, still seemingly crushing down on what remains of the boulder, the rock’s chunks all over the floor as well.

Zorro looks at it, “So. How do we get through this thing?” He scratches his head.

Raziel looks it over. “Maybe…we can squeeze past?” The tiger scratches his head. “The question is, who’s brave enough to go first?”

Zorro looks at it. He’s probably the smallest and could get through it without too much issue, but… “Maybe… we should tap on the rock first, and make sure it’s not going to like… budge when we squeeze in.”

Viktor picks up one of the rock chunks and tosses it under the floor platform, then reaches out and knocks on the underside, the thing not moving an inch. “Aai koul uze my vorkz on it iv yoo vaahnt.”

Raziel nods. “I like that plan.” He stares a the mechanism for a moment more, thinking. “Though, if we /do/ have to squeeze around, perhaps I should go first. If I can fit, everyone else should be able to.” Why does the tiger put himself in positions like that?!

Zorro ohs, “Well, if you’re volunteering.” He steps aside, and looks to the tiger. Hopefully, he won’t get squeeeeeshed.

Viktor moves under the thing just a little, acting sort of like a brace of some sort, for whatever good that’ll do. “Aai’ll help, yez.”

Raziel takes a deep breath, and sets his rifle and backpack on the floor. “Hand these over once I’m through.” The tiger cautiously approaches the giant, smashing contraption of death, and begins trying to slide past it.

And the machine does…… absolutely nothing. But there are sounds of yells and loud yelps from the outside of the hallway, looks like they’re looking all around the village for the group! Better hurry up before they decide that the hallway is where it’s at.

Zorro pushes the rifle in after the tiger, and tries pushing the backpack over as well. He probably needs a bit of help. These things are heavy!

The larger fox drops down and lifts up the pack enough so it doesn’t drag on the ground, pushing it through after the rifle some. Viktor however, is busy doing… nothing. Well, bracing the piston, but it’s not really doing anything, so neither is he.

Raziel pulls the items through from the other side. “It’s a tight fit, but I made it. Alright - Zorro next.”

Zorro asks the larger fox for a boost, looking to kind of jump through the hole. This should be possible, with how little he is. But even if he doesn’t quite make a smooth motion, he could still crawl through.

Said fox complies, kneeling down and lacing his pawfingers together, ready to give the boost. “Alright, I’m ready.”

Zorro hops up, attempting to leap through the hole!

The fox throws Zorro with all the might he can muster!

Zorro rolls with it. Through the hole, unsquished.

Raziel waits on the other side looking around, and thinking… “Hey, if we pile these rocks up over the holes to look like they natutally fell that way do you think we can—” The tiger looks up as the small fox emerges from a hole he /did not/ expect.

The other fox quickly squeezes himself on through. Well, as quickly as he can, sliding through the small gap, and as soon as he’s out, Viktor follows suit, a little faster due to being skinnier.

Raziel nods as he watches everyone get past. “As I was saying - if we pile some of the boulder chunks up over the lower holes, maybe we can make it look like it was blocked off when the boulder was smashed, and they won’t think to follow us through here. It will only take a few moments. At the very least, it will make it harder for them to come after us.”

Zorro rolls onto the floor, standing up. “Ta-da!” He grins, and then notes, “But yes, we should… probably shove this thing closed.” o.o The fennec starts handing the tiger rocks to pile on.

Viktor nods and starts to pick up the chunks, tossing them into the gaps on the lower piston.

Raziel works as quickly as he can, piling up the rock chunks in the openings. Finally, something the tiger’s size is useful for! Eventually, he stands and wipes off his brow (leaving a large sooty smear from his soot covered arms) as he admires the groups handiwork. “That looks good to me. What do you think?”

Zorro nods, looking over it. “Yep. Thems some rocks.” The fennec turns around, and starts scanning for traps while moving forward.

Viktor nods as well. “Yez. Zome rockz indeed.” He starts to follow with the group as well, the red fox doing the same, walking behind and keeping an eye out for anyone coming up behind. Or rather, an ear out.

“Alright then,” Raziel replies as he follows the foxes. “These stairs were terrible coming down…I can’t imagine they’re better going up…

Next - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 13

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