Saturday, March 23, 2013

Jackson in HRPG-World: 4-3 Bubble Bother

See, I said I wasn't done with him yet...


Jackson in HRPG-World: 4-3 Bubble Bother

Jackson dropped down on top of the marching head.  The clockwork head did not squish.  Instead Jackson's foot slipped out sideways, twisting his ankle.  He fell off and landed in an ungainly heap right in front of the advancing clockwork metal head.  It did not stop.  Heavy metal feet crunched down on Jackson, first breaking his legs, then crushing his vertebrae to powder, before finally shattering his skull like an egg.

It was as painful as it sounded.

* * * *

The unseen figure slapped a scaly hand against its forehead.

"Oh my, you really are stupid," it said.  "Looks like you're going to need some help."

It rummaged through a collection of items in a bowl on the table to the right of the cabinet and plucked out a small cross made out of bright red metal.  It pulled out a tray beneath the screen and dropped the cross inside.

* * * *

Jackson had just rematerialized back at the starting point, thankfully with his bones fully intact, when an object appeared in the air above him and bonked him on the top of his head.

Huh?

He looked down and picked up a metal gothic cross about a foot high.  The metal was black everywhere apart from the edges, where the cross appeared to be picked out with a flame-red outline.  Jackson wondered what he was supposed to do with it.

Oh crap, one of those clanking clockwork heads was already bearing down on him.  More in hope than anything, he thrust out the cross as if warding off a vampire.

A fireball erupted from the centre of the cross and blasted the oncoming head into a shower of bolts, springs and shards of twisted metal.  They faded away leaving behind a ruby as big as Jackson's fist.

Sweet!

The jewel was a piece of abstract treasure.  Jackson couldn't even pick it up.  The moment he reached down, the giant ruby vanished and 700 floated up from where it had been.  A bonus to his score, although he had no idea what that score represented in real terms.

The other two heads dropped down from the level above.  Jackson pointed the metal cross at them and blasted them into glowing shards.

All right!

Following a pause after the last monster had faded away, Jackson was hit by a sudden bout of disorientation.  It felt like he had been snipped out of the world.  The room fell away like the turn of a fruit machine reel while Jackson stayed in place.  Another room moved down to take its place.  Jackson saw a pyramid structure with four of the clockwork metal heads sitting at the top.  And then he was in the room and the clanking monsters were marching down towards him.

Jackson lifted up the cross and blasted them into showers of cogs and springs.

He did the same for the next three levels and was beginning to think the game might be a little too easy when the cross suddenly crumbled away in his hand.

Oh shit.  What now, Jackson thought as he was forced to take hasty evasive action.

* * * *

The unseen onlooker watched Jackson's antics on screen with mounting irritation.

"Okay, that's enough.  I'm not watching you fumble your way through another ninety-five levels.  It's been too fucking long."

They reached into the bowl sitting next to the cabinet and pulled out a vividly patterned umbrella.  It was about the same size as a cocktail umbrella, but far more detailed, like a doll's house miniature.  They opened the tray and dropped it in.

* * * *

Jackson saw an umbrella appear on the top platform.

An umbrella?  What kind of a weapon was that?

He wouldn’t have expected a cross to spit out fireballs either.

He jumped up and put his hand around the handle of the umbrella.  The umbrella opened and the world froze.  He felt that strange dislocation again as if he’d been snipped out of reality.  The room fell away and was replaced by another.  Jackson saw a new type of monster, creepy little hooded spooks, had joined the clockwork heads.  He didn't get a chance to observe them for long.  He'd barely stepped back into the game before he was plucked out again and the world was moving up to the next level.

This happened for the next level, and the one after.

The umbrella was a shortcut, he realised, a level skip.  But how many?  Ten rooms went by, twenty, fifty...  He was halfway up the tower now, floating up on the open umbrella like a regular Mary Poppins.  Floating wasn't the right word.  All his senses told him he was stationary and it was the world around him that was moving.

...sixty...seventy...

Was he supposed to let go or something?  What kind of game dropped a bonus that skipped the entire game?  It didn't make any sense.

It was what happened.  The world finally stopped moving as the umbrella deposited him in a much larger room near the top of the tower.  His feet touched the ground and the umbrella closed before vanishing with a poof.

Jackson glanced around.  The third dimension had returned; he was standing in a room rather than a rectangle.  What type of room though?  Judging from the walls and fittings it looked like a fancy waiting room in a posh mansion or palace.  At least originally.  Now it more resembled a workshop.  The centre of the room was turned over to a large workbench covered in wires, springs, nuts, bolts, cogs, metal plates...

Jackson jumped as he saw another of the clockwork heads.  He needn't have worried.  The thing was upside down and inert.  Its jaw had been removed.  Lying on the floor next to it was a large ball of purple fur with a wide mouth and blank eyes.  It was inert too.  A hatch was opened up in the top of its head and wires trailed out to dangling green circuit boards.  Overall, it looked like someone had taken a sumptuous palace lounge and turned it into a grease monkey's paradise.

"There you are," a feminine voice called out.

Jackson turned around.

He'd found the dragon.

to be continued...

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