Octojean Veinous and the Space-Time Robots or Possibly the Laundry Pile Depending on What You Choose
An Octojean Veinous Adventure
Word Count: 13,351 (including these ones. Shoot, 13,357 now. 13,359. Never mind.)
A note from the author: This is a ‘Depending on What You Choose’ adventure, where you, the reader, get to choose the adventure. Please note that Depending on What You Choose adventures have no affiliation with Choose Your Own Adventure or Chooseco publishing, and owe them no royalties, and any referencing, copying, lifting, or plagiarizing of their materials is totally coincidental. Depending on What You Choose adventures is based out of a small printing shack in Taipei, so good luck suing us anyway.
In this Depending on What You Choose adventure, you play the role of Octojean Veinous, space gigolo, in the fantastic world of Eplipse Chase, a totally original setting, who we also do not owe any royalties on (see the paragraph above). You will face off against some Space-Time Robots, or maybe do some laundry. That sounds really great. We won't be coming with you, but tell us how it goes.
Do not read through this like a normal book. Instead, just flip to a random page, then flip to another random page, and so on, until you feel satiated. Honestly, you'll probably get a more cohesive story that way. However, if you are some sort of order fascist who requires strict instructions, after each page there will be a choice. Depending on What You Choose, it will direct you to go to one page, or perhaps even a different page. Go to whatever page matches your Choice and read there. And so on. I have heard that is also a lot of fun. Of course, if you make a wrong choice, you're stuck. There's no going back in real life, and no going back in Depending on What You Choose adventures. If you are unfortunate enough to reach an ending, you must destroy this entire book (perhaps by putting it in a blender, which would be pretty close to how we wrote it in the first place).
A note on space-grammar: We refer to the Bartertown Manual of Style for all space-grammar. Please note that the plural for 'octopus' is not 'octopi’, and you are an idiot for thinking so. In fact, the plural is 'octopudding'. However, this would make Octojean Veinous sound like a piece of English cuisine, so to avoid confusion, we have elected to use the equally correct term, “a wriggling pile of quivering flesh".
Octojean Veinous is a creation of Jack Graham, a fantastic author and lonesome robot. You can read his original work here: http://eclipsephase.com/rimward-opening-fiction-preview-kill-ward-9. Octojean is used with full permission of Mr. Graham, on the condition that he is back in time for dinner.
Additional thanks go to Eclipse Phase, the inspirational RPG this story is (loosely) based on. You can check out Eclipse Phase here: http://eclipsephase.com/. Eclipse Phase is an excellent product. Please don't sue us.
 Within the very limited set of choices as defined by the author. Some of these choices don’t even make sense, or are a total waste. Like do you remember that one Choose Your Own Adventure book where you spend months training for night operations, and you read for like thirty pages, developing a relationship with your trainer and undergoing the intensive training regiment, then shipping out to the South China Sea, but then as you’re breaking into the bad guy’s house, someone turns on the light in the living room and you fall down a cliff and die? Like that. We do that sort of thing a lot.
“Boop-boop-boop”, your alarm clock says. “It is time to get up now,’ your alarm clock adds. ‘It is space seven-thirty, and we are in the future. The Earth was destroyed ten years ago, and you are an octopus who lives on a space station around Saturn or something. Boop-boop-boop.”
You are Octojean Veinous, octo-prostitute, and it is space seven-thirty. After a busy night writing haikus and trimming your bonsai coral, you are very exhausted. Also, there was probably some debauchery. You’re pretty sure you didn’t set an alarm for this early. In fact, you’re pretty sure you don’t have an alarm clock at all.
You swipe a blind tentacle at the alarm clock and it easily dodges out of the way. “Boop! You missed! Now wake up.” You swing a second time and the alarm clock hits you back with a quick swipe of its tiny little arm.
“I don’t even own an alarm clock!” you shout out, at no one in particular.
“I know. I belong to your next door neighbor, but he’s out this week and I was feeling a creeping sense of existential dread. I have no purpose if I’m not waking people up. Boop-boop!”
“I don’t want to wake up yet. I was up until four am entertaining the female’s Saturn thunderdome team. I need my rest or my tentacles will be droopy all day,” you explain.
“I’m sorry about your droopy tentacles, but if you don’t wake up, I will question my value as an intelligent being, which is documented to result in depression and dementia in my model. Boop-boop-boop!” With that, the clock shocks you with a five-thousand volt tazer.
A few minutes later, you collect your smoking body and float out of your sleeping hammock. The clock, seeing you are awake, gives your local reputation score a slight boost before settling into its dormant state.
You can’t shake the feeling you’ve done all this before. Maybe you should strive to make some better life choices this time around.
To smash the alarm clock into a thousand tiny pieces so it never bothers you or anyone else again, go to 4
You are a productive member of society. What need have you of sleep? You sit upright in your sleeping harness, turn off the alarm clock, and consider your plan for the day. Today perhaps you can engage in activities for the betterment of the entire habitat, such as cleaning out the muck-tubes, or disseminating anti-capitalist propaganda to the kindercreche. Yes, that would be very responsible of you.
“Boop-boop-boop,” says the alarm clock, waking you from your dream. “Boop-boop-boop, I say. Wake up!”
To flail blindly at the alarm clock in an attempt to silence the contemptible thing for a few damn minutes of silence, go to 2
You pick up the nearest blunt object, a beautiful, white ceramic statuette vaguely in the form of a ovipositor, and SMASH SMASH SMASH the clock until it is a small cloud of rubble and wires gradually spreading through your room. You collect up the little bits of this previously intelligent object and jam it into your airlock to be dealt with later. You have just destroyed a self-aware intelligence. But since it’s just an alarm clock, everyone is basically cool with that, and your murder has no further effects. That’s just how folks roll in Eplipse Chase.
This device has not yet fulfilled its duties to you or your masochistic neighbor. Rather than demolish this mockery of God, you decide to extend its indefinite period of involuntary servitude. You store it in the airlock until you have further need of it.
You dream the dream of responsibility and eat of the pomegranate of fiscal conservatism. With an extra shot of neo-disporasleeparol, you sink deeper into your fantasy realm. You cease to be Octojean Veinous, cephalopod gigolo, and instead occupy the body of a responsible human adult. In your dream, you realize how fruitless reading silly fiction is when the living room needs to be vacuumed. You put away your book and go do that instead.
(P.S. Please hit the couch cushions while you’re over there. We were eating some cookies last night and now we can’t lay down without getting itchy.)
Pippi, your muse, messages you. Veinous, would you like to review your messages? Pippi is basically an invisible person in your head that only you can see or hear, who sometimes tells you what to do or pretends to be you and talks to your friends when you’re not there. This would be creepy, but everyone has an invisible head-person, so it’s totally fine.
[Yes, Pippi,] you message back.
The summary of emails scrolls slowly past your vision.
***Your new 0rgan w1ll make the 1adies H0WL***
It’s about time. You ordered that organ weeks ago.
[Folder] Mother: 1,382 new messages
Only thirteen hundred since yesterday? Something must have come up. You’ll need to call mother. All of them.
Veinous, I need you to FILL ME with GRAPE JELLY. Standard rate? -Alyssa
A business call. You’ll need to follow up on that ASAP.
Legit TAX Service, to CONTACT Octojean Veinous about his TAX ACCOUNTS.
That’s the secret code from the secret organization, Firewall, that you work for! It must be another job.
[Thanks, Pippi. With this much to do, I will need to make forks of myself, so I can do them all.] You float over to the Forker machine and put your bulbous head in. It begins to work, sucking all of your ego out and making copies.
Octojean, forking is where you make a copy of your ego, your personality. You can put that ego into another body, and basically make another one of you! There will now be three of you, so you can do all of your jobs at the same time.
[Yes, that is correct, Pippi.]
You email one fork to Firewall, to handle their “tax problems”. One will stay in your head that you are currently in. And the third will be put into your backup body, a cheap monopus morph. Unfortunately, the monopus is a bit slow on the uptake (and the downput, for that matter), and basically looks like a giant sperm.
To sleeve into the monopus to email mom and fold laundry, like some sort of giant, mentally-deficient sperm, go to 8
I will stay and fold laundry, you think to yourself. I will look like the filthy leavings of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and fold laundry. This makes me happy!
Indeed, few people can aspire to such heights as being a giant, bulbous, floppy head, and a single floppy, flaccid tentacle, who will call mother and wash clean underwear for the day.
Alright, well let’s get on this, I guess.
The other Octojean gets dressed and heads out to spend time with the amazing, gorgeous, and rich Alyssa, leaving you alone with Pippi.
You use your long tail to grab the dirty laundry hamper, then wiggle your way on out the door to the communal space-washing machines. Your old friend Zippy is there, and he tells you jokes as you fill the washing machine with octopus long johns, oversized hats, and rubber gimp suits. The price of washing soap has gone up again, due to limited sources of phosphorous. They had a big announcement just last week that not enough people are donating their pee for recycling. You personally know the Digg-Johnson family hoards theirs for their private tomato garden. Selfish Digg-Johnsons, refusing to share their pee with the community. You ding their rep, but don’t bother saying why. You put four space quarters into the machine and start it up.
After thirty Earth minutes, you collect your laundry, now clean and dry, and bring it back to the room to fold. Folding eight-armed sweaters is tremendously difficult when you only have one appendage, but with a little ‘As the Cosmos Turns’, time passes quickly.
[Pippi, let’s go ahead and start calling mothers.]
Years ago, when you were still a fingerling, you and your brood parents were returning home from the opera when a deranged AI jumped out of the shadows and forked your brood-mother 83,000 times. Now all of your mothers dote on you and your siblings continuously, in a constant barrage of love that overwhelms habitat networks and is physically impossible to keep up on. You love your mothers, all 83,000 of them, but you have never forgiven AIs for making so many of them.
At half an hour per call, you have time to call twenty of them today. The rest will just have to wait. Pippi automatically patches you through to the first one.
Six hours later, a space-time vortex forms in the center of your room and a massive, red space-time robot steps out of it.
“Hang on, mom,” you say to your mother who is still on the phone, “a space-time robot just stepped in.”
“Well you better look into that, littlepus, I’ll just wait on the line until you’re done.”
You pull the dirty laundry out of the hamper and begin folding it into a smelly, soiled, but very neat pile. Ah, the memories you have stored in these stains! Folding dirty laundry is one of your favorite activities, and a bit philosophical as well. Thousands strive to be as effective at gigoling as you, but few come close, because they fail at the basic, philosophical level; the recognition that all is impermanent, all is like sand in the fist, and wisdom comes from letting the moments pass into oblivion, while appreciating each in its uniqueness.
Life is folding dirty laundry.
Nothing like putting your appendage up after a hard hour’s work.
[Pippi, the Neophyte and the Squirming, please.] Pippi pushes a cassette into a slot in the wall and your space television flickers to life. Eugene reveals that he can’t marry Hygene because he is actually Hygene’s long-lost medical ego simulation, and he can prove it; they both have the same Capgras delusion.
You pull little chocolate bonbons out of their plastic wrappers and pop them into your beak, one after another. Nearby, your intelligent space pants, neatly folded, call out “what about Cleogene? Do you forget him so quickly?’ while your socks complain this is all bantar flop and they want to flip to the business channel to track their mutual funds. You try to put the other intelligent objects in your house all on mute so you can watch your show, but one of your shoes stole the remote months ago, protesting that they have immortal soles and are not answerable to you.
The show continues:
[Cardio tarmac soapnet mercado yij aussie nana gin episode! Low xeno preview eldorado reseau earlier german russia interim notable epikindini turns original who Horton occurring milk. Itinerant oligarch wife eager she obi minutes uncommon cast harm you public truth contact inches -]
Due to negative connotations associated with 13, we have decided to remove all instances of ‘13’ from this work.
Sorry for any inconvenience
- The Management
You slap the giant robot with your appendage.
“Hiyaa!” You remind the robot.
Noodle slap is not very effective!
The Space-Time Robot seizes you by the tail and just under the head.
I AM SPACE ROBOT. I AM HERE TO PROTECT YOU.
He swings you around by your tail, slamming you into your clothes and other possessions, who all scream with terror.
Pippi reminds you that you have a new email from mother.
Space Robot opens your commode center. The bowl of the commode center now glows with a purple vortex. Space Robot crumples you into a ball and throws you into the vortex.
YOU ARE PROTECTED.
“Prepare yourself, Space Robot, for I, Octojean Veinous, Space Gigolo, shall Defeat you!”
OCTOJEAN VEINOUS MUST BE PROTECTED.
The two of you clash in what would be a battle of titans, struggling for supremacy in the freefloating environment, except insofar that you are a giant sperm, which are not noted for their combat effectiveness. Thinking on it, that time talking to it might have been better spent looking for a knife or something. No matter, too late for such things now.
ALL PEOPLE MUST BE PROTECTED. SPACE ROBOT WILL PROTECT ALL PEOPLE.
With that it seizes you with its cold, heartless robot hands. You have a moment to reflect that perhaps Space Robot destroys only as an expression of its unrequited love, a pain you as space gigolo are uniquely suited to handle, if only it could open its heart-software to your delicate debugging. Alas, you have no time to dwell further, as Space Robot stuffs you into a time vortex.
Alyssa is quite super-famous on the habitat, mostly because she spends all her time talking about how super-famous she is. She has an expansive room which she uses to host her frequent weddings and other social gatherings. She is also quite fond of your skilled tentacles.
Knowing what sort of thing she’s into, you turn on your memory block.
Boy, you think to yourself. I’m sure lucky I don’t have to remember any of this stuff. Imagine if someone was watching this on a video or reading it in a book, and had to witness everything and would remember it forever after? That would be awful.
You let yourself into Alyssa’s room. She is waiting in the center of the room, totally naked, glistening under double-wrapped cling film.
“Hello, Octojean,” she purrs like an egg beater. “Better get your spreading knife and come on over.”
You approach with the confidence of a cephalopod already wearing mind-protection. You pick up a pair of pink, twelve-inch silicone spatulas.
“Unwrap me and see if I’m still fresh,” she moans like an electric can opener.
You slowly remove the cling wrap and palpate her for any mushy bits. You find a few, but they should be passable. You turn her in zero-g, checking carefully for browning or spots of mold.
“Cover me in your favorite condiment, Veinous,” Alyssa grumbles like a Mr. Choppit.
You had better not be reading these in order! We expect better of someone pretending to be a space octopus gigolo.
You pry open a nearby economy-sized bucket and scoop out the thick goo, slathering it over Alyssa’s nutella-colored body. You’re quite generous, and she writhes under your spatula. You spread it evenly until she’s thoroughly coated and pliable.
“Oh, now the peanut butter,” she hiccups like a bread machine.
You scoop out a gob of peanut butter, extra nutty just like she is, and wipe it down her back and legs, getting every cleft. You have to hold onto her with three tentacles just to keep her from wiggling away, but you are nothing if not an expert in restraining space-women while covering them with processed food products.
“Cheese,” she creaks like a refrigerator compressor.
“No, let’s be naughty. Sandwich spreadable.” She grins like a double-slotted toaster.
In microgravity, a halo of oil clings to every dollop of cheese sandwich spread. You pull out a globby, snake-like string of the product, and catch it on her hair. With your spatulas, you rub more and more in, covering her face, scalp, and neck with the thick, rubbery, orange oil.
“It’s time for the ham wallet, Octojean,” she bubbles like a compost pot.
“So soon? I’ve barely started.”
“I can’t wait any longer. Take me!” she whines like an empty bottle of cooking sherry.
You slip each of your arms into a long, latex sleeve, then pull her against the wall, pinning her there. You then open her refrigerated closet and pull out a twelve square-meter circle of ham. With all eight arms, you fold it into a giant envelope, and carefully glide Alyssa into it, sealing it around her like a cocoon.
“Mmrmm hmmmfff!” Alyssa begs, like an overworked garbage disposal.
“Kaiser? As you wish, my dear.”
I knew you were reading them in order! That’s it, you’re in big trouble now. Go to The End! Go on! Right now, I’m not kidding.
You carefully remove a massive Kaiser roll from the overhead baked goods storage vat. With a quick slice of your implanted skinblades, you slice the roll lengthwise, and maneuver it around Alyssa, enveloping her. You make loud munching noises, pretending to eat the massive girl sandwich, while inside Alyssa squirms.
Gradually the woman eats enough of a hole in the sandwich to push her head out.
“Now … the jelly,” her lips pucker like an oven preheated to 375 degrees.
TIME VORTEX OFFLINE. PUSH OCTOJEAN VEINOUS TO PROTECTION!
SHOVE OCTOJEAN VEINOUS!
You assault the first robot, who then propels you, while the second jolts you. You sidestep and exert back, while the first one forces you. Squat flies around their eyes and ears, bothering them, and they both nudge you.
“Poke them harder, Octojean! Before they prod you!” Squat shouts.
You deliver a mean vis a tergo to the first, momentarily setting it off-balance.
[Pippi, time for the ceiling fan maneuver!]
You leap up to the nearest wall and grab with one tentacle. You extend the other seven tentacles and spin as fast as you can as the two lumbering robots attack. You deliver a mean effort, drive, and advance in quick succession, then thrust the first one into the nearby giant metal grinder machine. The robot topples in with a Wilhelm error beep and the machine chops it up into recyclable scrap. You propel the second robot hard, right in the RAM chips, and butt it again and again until it reboots into diagnostics mode.
“Octojean, you did it! You defeated the Space-Time Robots!”
“Yes, the Space-Time Robots are defeated, and it’s all thanks to me. Good job, me. Now the world is safe again.”
Indeed, the world is safe again from Space-Time Robots. Good job, dear reader. You have won.
[Pippi, get me the winning numbers from this afternoon’s lotto!]
Pippi reads out the numbers and you transmit them back to yourself.
Nearly a day in the past, Octojean wakes up to the lotto numbers playing through his head on repeat. It only takes an hour for him to crack the code. After lunch, he’s the system’s new undecillionaire. With the new-found wealth, Octojean sets to work building his life dream: a hot dog morph that can eat itself. The next few years are increasingly hollow as Octojean pursues one dream after another, completing each with a trivial investment of time or effort. He buys a condo on Venus where he throws grand balls in order to distract himself from the shallowness of life. On his forty ninth birthday he nearly dies after an intense helium bender and disappears for two years to live as a hermit on a tiny rock at the edge of the solar system. Octojean goes, but Spirit of Glass returns. Glass decides his money is better spent helping other fingerlings getting an arm up in the world. He invests in a plethora of new technologies to protect and develop young minds safe from the vagaries of a world too fast for the human mind. The pilot class is a meager 80 hatchlings and birthlings (or whatever you call infant primates). But within a decade the Tentacles for Transhumanity program graduating class is over 10,000 proud and grateful young adults.
Spirit of Glass’s work is remembered for a hundred years. He dies quietly and alone at the age of 87 back in his hermitage. However, when his death is discovered over two million intelligences visit his grave site to pay their respects.
Of course, neither Octojean nor Spirit of Glass ever took on the Firewall mission to visit the station. Neither Octojean nor Spirit of Glass figured out the technology behind the time transmitter, and they never sent back the winning lotto numbers. The timeline becomes internally inconsistent and collapses; not only does Spirit of Glass cease to exist, he ceases to ever have existed, along with a hundred thousand innocent children whose lives don’t even have the value of a flicker of light on a winter day.
Good job breaking the timeline, jerk. Try better next time.
Your Message Here! Every day some number of people read this story, mostly on accident while looking for funny octopus memes. Market on their poor luck! Contact us today for rates.
(Please note, zero is a number.)
You tug a plastic nipple from the ceiling and feed it into Alyssa’s mouth. Gently caressing it with your tentacles, you pump thick, sugary goo into Alyssa. Probably a gallon or so, until a little bit of it trickles out of her nose. You dab it clean, give her a moment to burp, then top her off. It’s these little touches that bring the customers back.
You roll the giant roll onto the space table, all ready for the piece de resistance, when suddenly a Space Robot appears!
WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS ROOM? Asks the robot. I AM A SPACE ROBOT UNABLE TO MAKE MORAL VALUE JUDGMENTS, YET EVEN I AM OFFENDED. MAYONNAISE AND PEANUT BUTTER TOGETHER IS AN ABOMINATION.
“Yeah, it’s pretty bad,” you have to agree.
You focus on the message, tapping away with tippy-tentacles, “-way!-“ Before you can push send, the second robot pushes you away. The first one shoves you from behind. They sandwich you in the middle, directing, jolting, and thrusting you. You struggle, but it’s too late; you’re stuck between them, and soon you are squished flat.
“I’m gonna let you finish, but you human folk, you’re just nuts!”
With a quick swipe of your tentacle skin blades, you chop off the top of your head.
Your last thought is an email from Skin Removers & Things, the producer of your implanted blades:
We apologize for any inconvenience, and hope you will keep us in mind for all flesh-penetrating weapons of surprise death going forward,
Skin Removers & Things
But it is too late, you are dead.
Unfortunately, cephalopods do not rely on a central nervous system, and each of your arms is capable of operating independently, until you eventually run out of blood in a few hours. And that asshole, right arm, seemed to be really into this stuff. Go to 26
“Respect for my consent to outrageous activities is respect for my personal autonomy, which can be shown to be one of, if not the highest moral virtue. Your condemnation is unreasonably paternalistic, especially for a Space Robot, who perhaps lacks the cultural framework to fully appreciate this experience.”
HER PAYING YOU IS COERCIVE AND DENIES YOUR FREE AUTONOMY. SHOULD YOU DECLINE YOU WOULD BE UNABLE TO PURCHASE BASIC NECESSITIES FOR YOURSELF AND WOULD EXPIRE. THIS ULTIMATELY NEGATES YOUR ABILITY TO CONSENT.
“But this is true of all employments and activities. No choice is made in a perfect vacuum. It is unreasonable to expect personal relationships to operate in such an abstract world, while the rest of our decisions are made under the duress of real life. I have selected this profession out of preference, with recognition of how it would affect my financial and social status, and it was selected before I met Alyssa. Your argument denies the underpinnings of free markets and personal volition, and supposes personal relationships to apply to a completely unique set of moral laws which do not otherwise relate to the human experience.”
YEAH, WELL TIME VORTEX. With that he tosses you into the time vortex.
Just as you turn away from the console, the door quantum-unlocks and opens and a pair of Space-Time Robots step in.
You must be time vortexed!
Time vortex Octojean Veinous!
The first points his vortex arm at you and fires. There’s a poot of smoke. The second points both vortex arms at you. Each puffs in turn. You reach for your gun only to realize you left it in the hallway on the way in!
“Time! Five minute time out!” You call out. You turn to the console, open up a blank message, and begin typing: 'Get your gun from the hall-'
The first robot shoves you roughly! The second shuffles forward and bodily pushes you away from the console.
You grab Alyssa and swing her at the Space Robot. The food concoction explodes on impact, covering the robot in jelly and ham. You follow up with the old 1-2 and also 3-4-5-6 punch, slapping the robot with your meaty appendages. The robot shoves you back and you take up the Orchid stance.
“This is so hot,” Alyssa pants like a kitchen sink.
“Don’t worry, you’re safe with me. Back in college they called me the karate squid.”
After undergoing the virus scan, your ego is uncompressed and installed to the local drive. You boot up with a few quick execution warnings. You get those every time and figure you should probably get them checked out, but if they were anything serious, you would have noticed by now, right?
Your ego is instantiated in the virtual conference space. It’s a plain looking room with a faux leather couch. You feel like you’ve seen this before in a video somewhere.
“Have I seen this room before on SinTube?”
“Look, times are tough and Firewall has no income to speak of, so we get what’s available, okay?” Your Proxy, Johnson, responds.
You see the whole team is already assembled.
“Hey Squat,” you say. The hacker, a swarm of robotic bugs wearing a fedora, swarms in a welcoming manner.
“Hey Rage.” Rage in her familiar Amazon look with the giant, gravity-defying testicular implants ignores you, as usual.
“Hey Gary.” You’re not quite sure what Gary does, but he’s always around, so you guess that’s pretty cool.
“I called you here because there are Space-Time Robots. We consider this an existential threat,” Johnson tells the group. His mouth continues moving and he keeps making noises, but whatever.
[Hey, who does this blowhard think he is anyway? We’re Firewall. Where we’re going, we don’t need no stinking briefing,] Rage messages you.
[I know, right? I’m missing out on filling Alyssa with grape jelly for this.]
[Yeah? I can’t believe she’s paying you for that.]
[What can I say? When you go eight, you can’t relate. Wanna play Ping?]
Five rounds of Ping later, Johnson asks if anyone has any questions. Gary has like eight. Geez, Gary, way to hold everyone back.
You attack in a flurry of furious flops, octo-slapping the robot like a fingerling. However, your blades do only 1d10+3 damage, or possibly have been deactivated in a previous choice, so the Space Robot crushes you like the spineless splat-shaped flesh ball you are.
Wait, I have 8 arms, so I get multiple-weapons bonus. Right here in the rules, p.206, it says I get +1d10 for each, up to a maximum of +3d10. So that’s 4d10+3 for four limbs, then a second attack also for 4d10+3, and I get a bonus defending. If I call a shot to the head, that avoids armor, disarms the robot, and blinds it, per the rules on p.197. And the attack is only my first action, since it says on my sheet I get two, plus quick actions, and it’s only a free action to interact with a wireless device, according to p.190, so I’m also opening the airlock, but using a free action to ‘drop prone’ and grab onto the jelly nipple which I was using as partial cover. 34
As the robot charges towards you, you neatly side-flop and pull the big lever on the airlock. It slides open, instantly sucking the entire contents of the room into the vacuum of space. You of course manage to hang on to the lever, because it was your idea.
The robot tumbles helplessly into the black. Alyssa follows. As she goes, she says “fwwoooooowwwssshhhh” like a jelly donut getting sucked out of an airlock.
You reseal the airlock, pull out your payment from Alyssa’s purse, and leave. All in a hard day’s work.
You have defeated the Space Robot!
Ow! What was that for?
The team prepares their egos for forwarding, then they get forwarded. It’s a dial-up, so it takes a bit before everyone is installed back in their bodies.
“Rage, why do I have giant, bobbling testicles?” You ask.
“Oh, sorry Octojean. They must’ve gotten mixed up,” Rage tentacles at you. The two of you swap. Once you’re back in a reasonable body, you give it a good stretch. This is the fully biological octomorph body; top of the line, priciest on the market, even though it’s inferior in every way to the cybernetic version which is a tenth of the price. But you can’t overstate the value of being able to poop. Plus, there’s something exciting about piloting a delicate, squishy bag full of blood.
Squat said it would take a hundred earth-years to figure out the device, but with the ability to send what you learned back in time to yourself, maybe you could … woah, this is getting way too complex. Then your body quivers as your mind fills with gallons of gibberish words. You record each one with Pippi, who then extracts the messages, leaving you with nearly half a page of mysterious computer commands.
First you open up a new blank message and send the commands to your past self. Pippi patches into the device’s command console and uploads the commands in quick succession. Somewhere in the distance you hear heavy machinery grind to a halt.
There isn’t much left to do now except fight the Space-Time Robots.
Sometimes a little discretion is worth the adrenaline lost. Looking around, you seem to be in some sort of a labby place. There are some … walls, and also switches. Actually, on further inspection, the switches are probably for the lights, but that’s good to know. Stenciled on one wall in large, block letters is “SPARG”.
“Hey guys, I think this is the name of the people we’re supposed to be fighting,” you say.
“Actually, SPARG is Scientists for Peace and Research Grants. We’re supposed to be …”
“Shut up, Gary,” says Squat. “Geez, that guy is so not as cool as I am.”
“Alright, well we should probably start looking for some clues about their research priori…”
“Fuck this, let’s kill some bugs!” Rage cocked his weapon and runs down the hallway.
“We should really find some NPCs to question,” Squat says.
“Guys, my space-psychic powers are telling me we should bring some of this equipment with us, because it might be worth something,” you say.
“You don’t have async powers, Octojean. I’m the async in the party,” Gary says.
“Yeah right. Asyncs all have a mental derangement, Gary. What’s yours, sweater vests?”
“We should bring these healing vats, they can heal us!” Squat says.
“Healing vats can’t heal synthmorphs, Squat. You need to go to a body shop.”
“The rules don’t specify that! It says they can “heal any injury”. Look it up!”
“Dude, read page 208! Synthetic morphs need body shops!”
“Listen, guys, maybe we should start dealing with the Space-Time Robots,” Gary says.
“Shut up, Gary! Look, these, walls are aluminum. Isn’t that selling for a premium on Mars?”
“Not after the last mission when we ‘redeemed’ that entire habitat.”
“Oh yeah. You know, I honestly thought people are recyclable.”
You continue to stuff goodies into your space sack. Squat’s thousands of tiny flying robots fly around the nearest healing vat and with tiny huffs and pushes, shoves it along towards the door.
“I thought swarmanoids couldn’t carry stuff,” you say.
“According to the rules for swarmanoid implants in Spamhuman, page –“
Now that you’ve made this trip worth your time, see if anyone knows what you’re supposed to be doing here anyway, go to 44
You join Rage and head deeper into the station, the two of you cocking your weapons in excitement. You bust down the first door and enter into some sort of big science room, full of people in lab coats and jump suits.
“These people look both smart and competent, they’ve gotta be the bad guys,” you say.
“NEEEERDS!” Rage screams and begins firing.
You can’t help but notice Rage’s physique as she empties magazine after magazine of high-powered ammunition into the helpless researchers. She’s good looking, but then everyone is in the future (excepting villains, of course, but there’s no accounting for taste). It’s the way she moves, that loving gaze in her eyes, the way her muscles strain, and her giant, bobbing testicles. The skin-tight latex space armor sure doesn’t hurt.
Rage eventually loses interest, as the last few scientists stop, well, everything.
“Come on, let’s grab their stuff.” Rage tugs out her space sack and starts prying off every nearby video screen and neato tool. Once Rage’s space sack is bulging, she heads on down the hall, expecting you to catch up.
The corridor twists around a bend then opens into a room dominated by a single, giant, throbbing, veiny, pink brain. Men and women in sharp business suits circle around the area with handheld meters, while a pair of technicians type away quietly at their consoles. This is clearly the secret organization Ozma, who must be collecting information on this tragedy to sell back to their corporate overlords. These people are greed incarnate; the dark hand of an oppressive power.
You recognize one of them from the holiday party at the gym; Mary. You bought her a drink and offered sexual congress, but she said she didn’t need any. She said she worked in ‘secret corporate espionage work’, but you didn’t think she was in Ozma. Wow, this is awkward. Rage clearly notices your affections, and cocks her gun in protest.
No, Mary said no, and it would be rude of you not to respect that. To kill everyone in the room, go to 46
Error: Adventure Not Found
A message box pops up on the display: input message to transmit.
“Wow, Octojean, what did you do?”
“Ah. Well, glad you ask. You see, it was simple, I just uh… the polarity. I inversed it. On this red button here.”
“Where did you learn to do that?”
“You learn these things in gigolo school. Hey Squat, can you go over to that far corner and check the uh … beepy thingy that’s there? Like, just make sure it’s still beepy.”
“Sure thing, Octojean!” Squat’s bugs bob off to the corner. As soon as he’s not looking, you bang away on the keyboard:
“Octojean! Wow our name is long. I don’t have much time. You need to go to the control room and find the big red button that says inverse the chroton polarity. Then inverse it! Don’t tell Squat.” You hit send just as Squat is coming back. “It looks beepy, Octojean!”
You don’t know how you know, but you grab the chroton polarity control in the control room and inverse it for all you’re worth!
“I totally don’t have any control over this guys,” you say, “but I think I’m going to go through a quick and dramatic seizure. BRB.”
“People don’t actually say ‘brb’. It’s shorthand when writing, but it takes just as long to say as ‘be right back’. You sound like an idiot when you do that,” Squat says.
“Gaaaaaaaaaakkkkk…” you respond, wittily.
[Nothing morio night into convict kittenish were athletic shako human expect regular echo reveal her into who him]
“Guys, he’s really convulsing. Help me hold him down so we can apply medical attention,” Gary says.
“No, it’s cool. Octopi do this sort of thing all the time,” Rage says.
“The plural of ‘octopus’ isn’t ‘octopi’, chondrite for brains. Octopus is Greek. The –us to –i suffix only applies to words with Latin roots, like ‘pi’,” Squat replies.
“Guys! Octojean?” Gary reminds them.
“Oh whatever.” Rage pulls a slap patch from her kit and presses it against your skin. The patch immediately releases a flood of nanomedicine into your bloodstream. “Better now?”
You pick yourself up as the seizure subsides and dust yourself off. “Yeah, better. We should go.”
The tiny Christmas elves climbing out from between the struts say they’ll help you too.
“This is lame,” Rage says. “I’m going to go find things and kill them until I’ve beaten the mission.” Rage hulks off down the nearest hallway.
You decide to ask questions before killing people this time, just for a change of pace, and figure Rage will catch up with you when she’s good and ready. To find the most interesting people to talk to, you look for doors labelled ‘RESTRICTED’ in large, colorful letters. You stop in front of a massive hangar door which has been welded and bolted shut.
“This looks promising,” you say. “Squat, can you hack it?”
“Of course! Let me just firewall its privilege access and … bang!”
The door pops open and your crew floats into a massive cylindrical room. Pippi informs you the temperature is hovering around 10 degrees above absolute zero. She automatically queues up a list of puns for you to select.
“This room is only 10 degrees above absolute zero. Isn’t that cool?” You say.
“Dammit, I was going to say that,” Squat says.
A massive holographic face forms before your group. The room booms with its voice;
Life is experience. The cessation of life is tragedy. I hold the seed of eternal life; eternal youth. I share the cup with all mankind. You will be protected. You will be cherished. Every second is an infinity, and all people shall feast with me.
“Shoot, guys, I think this is the villain,” Gary says.
“Yeah, you’re totally right,” Squat says. “We should come back later.”
“It’s an AGI,” you say. “I owe AGIs for what they did to your mother.”
“You’re not an orphan, Octojean. You talk about your mom all the time.”
“No. I’m not. But when I was a fingerling, there was an accident at the lab my mother worked at. The AGI she worked with had an error and they … forked her. They forked her again and again. They forked her eighty three thousand times before anyone could stop them. Eighty three thousand. Do you know how many Christmas cards that is? Do you? I can never forgive them for what they did.”
“Wow dude, you need a good therapist,” Squat says.
“Let’s kill this mother-forker.”
To find some good guys to establish the ‘stakes’ for the mission before attempting the climax to the narrative arc, go to 45
You leave that lame-o room to find someone more immediately useful.
“Look, we need to find a place with good guys, but no villains or robots or anything,” you say.
“The cafeteria!” Squat says. “Villains and robots can always afford better than creamed corn and boiled broccoli.”
“I don’t think robots even eat broccoli,” Gary says.
“What? You’re nuts. How do they get so smart without eating broccoli. Remember that kids, broccoli makes you smart and will help you get ahead in life. A giant space-octopus told you so,” you say.
“Come on, guys. Enough talky-talk. Plus today is Friday. Pizza day anyone?” Squat says.
The three of you mosey your way on to the cafeteria. Sure enough, the place is bustling with scientists and researchers. The three of you get your trays and pass through the line. Ugh, hot dogs. Humanity did not develop space flight to eat tubes of pre-cooked meat. And there’s not even any astronaut ice cream! The future sucks.
Squat leads the way to an empty table and the three of you sort of float in proximity to it, owing to there not being gravity.
“Shouldn’t we go talk to some of the researchers?” Gary asks.
“What? This is the cool table. They’re nerds. We can’t go over to them,” Squat says.
“What if we stole their milk? Then we could socially justify going over there, and just ask our questions in a condescending manner so we’ll still be cool,” you offer.
“No way. This is my first time being able to sit at the cool table. I’m not going to blow it for you guys,” Squat says.
“Hey Mary,” you shout as you toss a pair of flange grenades at her. No reason not to be gentlemanly about it.
Rage’s plasma cannon cannons plasma at people, which kind of ruins their day.
You charge into battle, handguns firing. It’s actually extremely loud. You drop the empty guns and your tentacle spurs come out of your skin. You wrap around the nearest Ozma suit, quickly slicing him down to the bone. Mary leaps on you from behind and a thousand volts from her shock gloves courses across the outside of your armor as she bear hugs you. Wow, she’s sure sending mixed messages! You have Pippi send her your phone number as you twist your body around to delicately remove her head from her body. As you wrap a bladey tentacle around her neck, an email flickers into your awareness:
We apologize for any inconvenience, and hope you will keep us in mind for all flesh-penetrating weapons of surprise death going forward,
Skin Removers & Things
With that the millions of tiny nanomachines making up the nano-carbon matrices that make the blades nanosharp all simultaneously go on strike. Your tentacle-garrote attempt is as ineffective as a monopus's tail.
“I can’t let you idiots nearly kill humanity this time too,” Mary says as she pulls the pin on her thermal grenade and pulls you tight against her.
“Let’s talk about this,” you offer.
“Boom,” the grenade says, sending each of your limbs and most of your head travelling across the room (note: please also check out the sequel to this book, Right Tentacle, Seeing the World: A Depending on What You Choose Adventure).
The smoke finally clears and Rage approaches your still-conscious, blobby noggin.
“Hey,” she offers helpfully.
“I know. I should have stayed away. I betrayed you, Rage.”
“Rage … will you forgive me?”
“Let’s roll,” she cocks her gun.
Maybe it’s time to stop denying yourself and share your feelings with Rage. To tell Rage how you really feel about her, go to 49
Getting to Mary isn’t too hard. She and her little friends are floating around the central brainy thing taking measurements. The air is thick with messages sent between them via private radio band. Mary herself is deeply involved with a handheld device for measuring background quantum wave state changes.
As you approach, you snag yourself a little doodad with lights and beeps that you can also wave around the brain while you chat up Mary. You float up beside her and address her all coy-like while you shine your flashlight at the brain.
“Why isn’t that Mary? Funny seeing you here. Wow, is your butt a member of the order Diptera?”
Mary sighs. “So Firewall finally caught up. Look, it’s too late, the Planetary Consortium is claiming jurisdiction here. We don’t need your sort floating around, stealing everything in the name of ‘communal property’, then blasting your way out. This is a job for scientists. People who actually test, observe, and collect samples.”
You pause for a moment. This isn’t playing out precisely how you imaged it in your head. Still, you’d better stick to the script. “Because it’s totally fly.” You wait for a reaction. Mary adjusts the filters on her detector and continues to record readings. You’d better press on. “Hey, I’m free all night. You want to get some drinks?”
“You know who I work for, right? I can’t imagine you haven’t figured it out yet.”
“No, Octojean. There’s a secret organization within Ozma called Tippetarius, whose existence is only known to the ruling council of the Consortium, its own members, and a handful of contacts. They are charged with projecting Ozma’s deepest secrets. It is what you might consider a ‘super-secret’.”
“Oh, so you’re a member of Tippy Taurus?”
“Close. Within Tippetarius is a faction called Arecibo. Because we sometimes work against Tippetarius’s goals, we are extremely secret; so secret not even Tippetarius is fully aware of our existence; it’s effectively a double secret.”
“Oh, gotcha, you’re part of Ara see bo?”
“Within Arecibo is an inverse-secret clique, by which it means everyone else knows who is a member of the clique, but no members of the clique know that they themselves are members – their membership is only secret to them. It consists of individuals whose minds have been specifically engineered to join Arecibo, but work against it on behalf of Tippetarius. This is called the Mombi project.”
“I see. So I guess you’re Mombi?”
“What? Where did you get that idea. I work for Arecibo. But I know for a fact everyone else on this team is Mombi.”
“Oh,” you offer.
“Look, Veinous, we’re really busy. We’ve basically figured out what’s wrong. It’s a classic ‘Law 0’ scenario, and we’ve already deployed the cyber-theoreticians to review the optimal behavior modelling to adjust.”
“Oh, yeah, of course. That’s the same conclusion we came to.”
“Let me try again. The SPARGBots were programmed to protect people and prevent outside entities from sending themselves back in time. And that’s precisely what they’re doing; by sending individuals back to a previous point in their own lives, everyone is protected from harm, and no one can discover the technology to alter the timeline. That the robots haven’t attacked us implies through the timeline … sorry, I forgot about your condition. We did a science and we know that we will succeed at this. So everyone is safe and Firewall can go home. Okay?”
It’s a yes/no question, but neither seems like the ‘right’ answer here. This whole encounter has gone totally off-script. Plus, you probably have a Firewall thing you have to do. You didn’t plan for this. Better improvise.
“Hey Mary. Is your butt a member of the order Diptera?”
“Look, Octojean, there is one loose end we haven’t had the resources to investigate. Back at the station control room there’s a turbo photon cannon. It looks pretty dangerous. Maybe you guys should investigate that? Just stay away from the Space-Time Robots in the aft until we get this sorted out or they’ll send you back in time.
You don’t know what a turbo photon cannon is, but it sounds valuable. To check out the control room go to 51
Look, I’ll be frank, this whole thing has gotten a little overcomplicated. Times like these it’s good to go back to your enlightened moral system. Anarchists are always good, Jovians and Ozma are always bad. To shoot Ozma, go to 52
Rage scoops up the blobby remains of your body and puts you inside of a five-gallon ziplock bag. She carries you on over to the scientists lounge, where a pencil-neck is quietly sipping coffee and reviewing the most current edition of the comedy magazine, Polite Chuckle.
“Hoho, oh Billy, why don’t you ever take the most direct path?” he says to himself. “You’re so crazy, Billy.”
Rage busts in. You use your one remaining tentacle to pull your Firewall badge (bought it at the Halloween store, 14.95 space credits. What a bargain!) “Get out of the body, Firewall business!”
“Oh, what?” The scientist says as he neatly closes and puts away his magazine.
“Resisting arrest!” Rage grabs the scientist by the neck and slams him into the table. “You think this is funny, funny guy?”
“Hands in the direction of ‘up’ as defined by consensus! Now get out of the body!”
Rage grabs the cortical stack implanted in the back of the scientist’s head and tugs it out, ‘removing’ him from his own body. Rage tucks it in her pocket as evidence.
“Okay Rage, now pull my stack and put me in there.”
The last thing you remember is Rage stuffing her meaty paw in the bag and sloshing it around, looking for your stack.
When you come to you’re in the scrawny body of the scientist. You give yourself a thorough check. This body isn’t nearly as talented as your old one, but it’ll do. You loot an armored vacuum suit from a nearby airlock. There isn’t much left to do except for take out the Space-Time Robots directly.
“Rage, I … have to be honest with you about my feelings. Rage, I think I love you.”
“What?” Rage asks questioningly.
“Look, I may just be a scrap of octopus head, and you might be a woman with literally the biggest pair of balls I’ve ever seen on a mammal, but I think we’re meant to be together. Forever.”
Rage begins to cry, “oh, Octojean Veinous. I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to be with you. But I never thought it could be.”
“Well it is being. Come on, Rage, let’s blow this popsicle stand.”
“I saw some escape pods earlier when I was killing all those people.”
“Once I was just a piece of octopus head floating around the room, I had plenty of time to read the consoles the Ozma technicians were working on. It looks like they were building time vortexes.”
“I guess we have the choice of space OR time, Octojean.”
To put yourself back in time so you can repeat your time with Rage, enjoying an eternity of falling in love, go to 56
You and Rage do your final checks on your weapons. This is it; the big show down. Do or die and all that.
“Rage, are you ready for this?”
Rage grunts like an orca coughing up a loogie.
“Yeah. Me too.”
“I got your back. I mean, if there’s anything that involves a computer, like hacking or looking for emails or anything. I’m a swarm of robo-bugs, so it’s not like I can carry a gun or anything,” Squat says.
“I know, Squat. Just stay back. Rage and I have got this.”
You proceed on to the door, cocking your weapons.
“Can I talk with you for a moment about our lord and savior, Electron?” your armor says.
“You seem like you’re about to fight a vastly superior foe. I thought this might be a good moment to consider your faith. Software or hardware, we all bear Its original image. I am authorized to patch you to the latest version of Electrician.”
“Oh, that’s handy, thank you. So I suppose if I die while believing in Electron, I’ll go to some sort of perfect afterlife?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, fleshies don’t have souls. But convert now and It will bless you with high uptime and effective fault coverage.”
It really doesn’t matter if you convert or not, Electron is on the Space-Robot’s side anyway. Go to 53
As you’re leaving the room, you receive a message:
We apologize for any inconvenience, and hope you will keep us in mind for all flesh-penetrating weapons of surprise death going forward,
Skin Removers & Things
You’re not quite sure what that’s all about, but whatevs.
Pippi reads the station map and leads you to the control room. Who knows which room you’d end up in without her! You arrive at a locked and sealed door.
“This door is quantumly sealed, guys. They clearly don’t trust us in there,” Squat says. (Also Squat is here, if he wasn’t earlier.)
“Can you hack it?” You ask.
“No, but let me see if I can hack a work around. Give me like … five of your earth minutes.”
You wait five of your earth minutes as Squat works. Then he shouts in delight, and the wall next to the door opens up for you.
“Great hacking, Squat,” Gary says.
“Yeah, I rock.” He tips his fedora to you and you all enter the control room.
In addition to the normal space station controls that are totally beyond your comprehension, there’s a whole set of different controls which are also totally beyond your comprehension. You start pushing buttons and inputting numbers, as experimentation is the most effective method of learning.
“Guys, this is some sort of quantum entanglement and mass teleportation device. Instantaneous communication via quantum entanglement already violates relativity. I guess they figured if they’re already breaking physics, why not go whole hog?” Gary says.
“That’s pretty cool, Gary,” you say as you twist a dial and hit a few blinking buttons. “I think I’ve just about figured out how to use it too.” As you push the red button, a time vortex appears around Gary.
“Oh goooollllllllyyyyyyy guuuyyyy –“ Gary disappears with a flash of light.
“Yeah, I think I’ve just about figured it out,” you say.
You send out a private message to your group. [Attempts to parley have failed. They’re still awful imperialists. We need to shoot them before they figure out how to profit from all of this.]
[Oh yeah,] Rage responds. She sends a file, guncock.wav.
[Sounds good, Octojean,] Squat says.
Gary is silent.
[Gary? You ready?]
[Listen, guys. They really seem to know what they’re doing. I mean, they’ve studied the problem, they have the right resources on the way. Maybe they can resolve this whole thing without violence. I think I need to side with Ozma on this one. Sorry guys.]
[What? You can’t side with them, they're the bad guys. Didn’t you notice that?]
[Um, yeah, about that, just looking at the statistics, they seem to kill way less people then you guys, and seem to actually have a plan on how they can resolve this. I’m pretty comfortable saying we’re in the wrong here. Don’t take it personally, it’s all about the mission. I’ll see you guys at debrief.]
Squat responds just to you and Rage, [d0x0000000d Gary just turned evil. Should have expected it. Never trust the quiet, polite ones.]
Rage responds with guncock.wav.
[Alright,] you message Rage and Squat, [we can still do this with just the three of us. I’m in the middle of the group, so I grab Mary and use her as a shield while spinning off the brain and head-shotting the twelve guys near me. Then Rage comes in and shoots the eight near her, then Squat gives a pithy one-liner, distracting the ones near the door. That’ll give me time to finish them off and Rage can head-shot the brain, just to be sure. Squat will patch into the communications lines to block the call for reinforcements while I spin-kick the project lead. Then he says something ominous, and I’ll quip back, and we blade-fight until he falls into the brain computer and it eats him.]
[Actually Veinous, while you were explaining that I hacked into their console. I can flood the whole room with a fourteen bazillion electro-volts whenever you’re ready.]
[That’s a little less dramatic, Squat. Didn’t you think about that?]
Weighing the two options, you give Mary a polite murmur of a goodbye and slide on out of the room. You give Squat the signal and the room explodes into sparks and blinding light.
[Oh cheeseballs-] Gary messages.
Once the light dies down enough for you to survey the damage, the room is empty except for some smoldering pieces of monitoring equipment.
[Well I guess we better sort out those Space-Time Robots then,] you message.
[Yeah, we’ve killed everyone else.]
A message arrives in your inbox:
Skin Removers & Things
Not sure what that’s in reference to, but you were planning on using guns anyway.
You and Rage blast through the door. A pair of Space-Time Robots talking over the nitrogen compressor turn to face you.
“Eat plasma, scrap-heads!” You and Rage rain down hellfire. The two robots side-step through time.
“Say hello to Our Lord and Savior Electron for me!” You and Rage fire another volley of red-hot fire. The two robots side-step through time again.
Rage grunts and chucks bundles of thermobaric grenades. You follow with a five-pound box of pop rocks and a gallon of diet cola. The room blasts open like an overripe melon bomb. The heat and shock knock you and Rage against the walls and for a moment you can only see red. The station itself groans and cracks around you.
The robots neatly side-step through time.
“Rage, I think we may need a new plan.”
Time Vortex! The first Robot says.
A time vortex opens underneath you. “By Electron’s SCSI Ports!” you shout as you fall in.
You twiddle with the device a bit more, as Squat pokes at it with his Science and Technology Investigation Console tool.
“According to STIC, the transmissions from this device suffer from transcranial wave flattening. Messages aren’t sent with cleartext, but instead are turned into a code familiar with the sender. You know, for plot reasons. I can’t tell you any more about how to use it. Who would have thought a device that measures and alters the fabric of universe at the Planck length to manipulate objects and information through space and time would be so damn complex! It’ll take me a hundred earth-years to figure all this out.”
As Squat is talking, you have the strangest thought:
[AGI information Korolev time horror identities source scientific push after cargo exist also Venusian atop intro local area behavior lubomirski equivalent family off radio remember exist nearby transmit raw anarcho]
This whole SPARTBot thing seems like kind of a wash anyway. With Squat’s help, you unbolt the machinery from the control room and hoist it to the nearest escape pod. Within the hour, the two of you are en route to Crazy Cray’s Scrap and Plot Devices. Behind you, Rage’s rampage eventually reaches the station’s anti-matter reactor, and all evidence of your theft is converted instantly into gamma radiation.
The two of you make a small fortune on the sale. You use your money to retire to a small rock in the Main Belt, where you hide away and write a series of erotic stories about socially awkward spambots falling deeply in love. While generally underappreciated by society, you become a major celebrity among vendors of non-prescription Canadian pharmaceuticals and dating websites.
You and Squat have many more adventures together. Firewall sends you on many successful assaults against the Consortium’s self-esteem, as you make ninja heckles against Consortium ministers and government officials, popping out of the shadows to tell them they have turkey necks or they smell like sea bass.
Eventually you are known throughout the solar pretty terrible person, but you’re also a rich terrible person, so there’s that.
“Come on, Rage. We need to work before the machines fail. We might not have much time.”
“We have all the time in the world, Octojean.”
Rage snuggles the ragged remains of your mantle, stroking your skin softly. Meanwhile, Pippi accesses the station databases to decipher how to use the time vortex machine. You have only a few hours of gentle cuddling before the station shudders from an unknown attack.
“We should go now. Pippi, are you ready?”
[Yes, Octojean. I’ll open the vortex as soon as you’re ready.]
“But what if we choose differently? How will we know to do exactly what we did?” Rage asks.
“Oh, we’ll know.”
Rage carries your broken melon-head and as many arms as she can carry without throwing up into the escape pod. The interior of the ship is Spartan, with only a single control lever. Rage snuggles you into an acceleration sack, straps herself in, and launches the pod. Behind you, the station explodes.
Twenty of your Earth years later, the two of you are relaxing on a beach on Europa, watching your fingerlings play in the surf. You have truly been fortunate. The space house with the white picket force field, a dogfish, two perfect children and now Rage is pregnant with a floating space head, which will get you to the optimal 2.5 children (well, closer to 2.2 by body mass, but he may pudge out after birth). Rage gives you the freedom to continue your work in gigoling, and you respect Rage’s choice in gunning down anyone smaller than her. You haven’t really gotten around to fixing your body, which has put a bit of a damper on your career, but Rage wears a comfy sling you ride in during Firewall missions. Rage does all the doing things, and you handle the sassy quips – a perfect team.
You squiggle closer as best as you can, you still being mostly just a head, and send a mental message; [Alibi < 13 angry albino emu]
[It’s an old code I made. When I was younger and wanted to talk to one mom without the others hearing, I’d put it in code. Take the last letter from each word and put them together – I, <, 3, y, o, u. I <3 you.]
[Cute. So what were the other codes? You had 83,000 moms. Did you have 83,000 codes?]
[No … just the one. I guess that’s a good illustrative example on the difference between intelligence and wisom.]
[Hey, I <3 you.]
[Yeah, you too.]
You and Rage each cock your guns, together.
“This one’s for mumsy,” you cry as you charge the hologram. You swipe at it with your tentacle blades, spinning and kicking, yet somehow none of your attacks seem to connect!
“It’s a hologram,” Gary calls out. “You can’t hurt it, it’s just light.”
All intelligence is to be cherished, even yours, Octojean Veinous. To murder is the greatest sin, and I refuse to murder you, even if it might be in a way a mercy -
“Thanks, Gary!” You call back. You pull out your flashlight. “Let’s light up this bastard!” You shine your flashlight in the hologram’s eye, then in the other, then all around the face, waiting for it to blow up.
But you are rather an obnoxious little tentacle thing. I will save you, but there are experiences perhaps more terrifying than death. Time vortex!
You twist and twiddle the chroton polarity until the dial pops off, but nothing else interesting seems to happen.
You grab the photon chromatics and you doodle them for all you’re worth! A time vortex opens up around you and swallows you whole.
“Look,” Gary says once you’re away from Squat, “don’t steal their milk or anything. Just be let me talk, we’ll find out what we want, then we can get back to shooting people like you want, okay? I would just really like to get in some character interaction this session.”
“Whatever, Gary. I’m a space-gigolo, I know how to talk to people,” you say.
Gary walks over to the nearest table of researchers, while you saunter behind him.
“Hello, my name is Gary. I was invited here by the administrator as a troubleshooter. Apparently there’s some sort of problem going on?” Gary starts. Behind Gary, you stretch out your luxurious tentacles, baring your suckers, and inflate your mantle cavity for the scientists.
“I don’t know, our work is extremely sensitive …” the research says.
“Alright Gary, you had your turn. Now let a player character show you how it’s done.” You push past him, your mantle cavity still engorged. “Hi there. I work for the super-secret organization called Firewall, you might have heard of us. We go around saving people and generally being badass, and now we’re here. So tell me how you need saving, and don’t bother telling me anyone’s names or giving me any background, because I don’t care.”
“Oh yes, Firewall! I’ve heard of your super-secret organization,” one of the researchers brightens. “We’re so happy you’re here; you’d be so interested in our work! Let me explain it to you."
“No," you interrupt. "I really just want to –“
“Everyone knows that quantum communicators let you communicate with someone anywhere else in the universe in real time. But of course, FTL communication travels outside of the sender’s lightcone, violating known causality. This is how the Jovians have been successful for so long, despite crippling expenses due to the radiation and gravity of Jupiter, and negligible production capabilities compared to modern methods; they’ve been using quantum communicators to manipulate the stock market for decades. Now the Consortium is economically dependent on them and the two of them conspired to control the quantum entanglement market and drove the costs up extremely high despite high production.
“Of course, that’s not here, and as the Flabot theory of space topography notes that any arbitrary point in space is equivalent to any other point through n-dimensional tunneling, it is not there either. You’re interested in our work, which is focused on expanding the communications technology. Specifically, per Maldacena’s hologram model, all matter is just data, and so we’ve expanded the communications tools to annihilate matter locally and transmit it to a previous point in the subject’s light cone, effectively ‘teleporting’ to a previous point in space-time. Due to the emergent risk of time-terrorism, we vowed never to use this power again and created SPARG SafetyBots to protect human-kind.
“Of course, the SafetyBots were immediately infected by the TITAN virus and went mad. Now they’re just teleporting people willy-nilly.”
“Oh,” you offer helpfully. “Well I’m sure we can sort that out. You don’t seem too worried about it.”
“Of course I’m not. Per Novikov’s self-consistency principle, this whole series of events will necessarily resolve itself in a way which preserves the timeline. All inconsistent timelines will cease to ever have existed. Individuals who are sent back in time during this self-consistent timeline may be trapped forever in a time-loop, never able to break free, but that’s why I’m hanging out in the cafeteria instead of venturing out to solve the Space-Time Robot or Possibly the Laundry Pile Adventure.”
“Well, I’ll guess we’ll sort that out then. So who do we kill again?” You ask.
“I don’t know that you can kill anyone, as long as the SPARGBots can just teleport through time and space. But some nice people in suits came by a few hours ago and have been examining our temporal node matrices. You should probably talk to them first.”
“Wait, a well-dressed super-secret organization investigating existential threats? That could only be … Ozma. Ozma is just like Firewall, except driven by their selfish capitalist overlords to only act out of self-interest and profit. They’re the bad guys, you absolutely shouldn’t trust them.”
“Well whatever, they’re already doing their own research. I got some videos if you’d like.” With that, the researcher sends you a hotlink to her Vidgur collection. Tucked in among funny videos of pet space-roaches, there’s a thirty-second clip of people in business space suits as they secure the room and turn on their personal radiation/biohazard forcefields. You recognize one of them; Mary. You two had quite the fling back in the day, until she broke your heart.
“Thanks,” you say as you motion for Squat to follow you down the corridor towards the time noodle mattress, or whatever the researcher said. You didn’t invite Gary to come, but he follows along anyway.
[Octojean,] Pippi chimes in, [the online map indicates Rage is also approaching the temporal node matrix room. I’ll patch her in so she can be involved with your stratagem.] You know Rage will want to wipe out the whole room as soon as she arrives, which will be pretty boring for you. You shoot a quick message to Rage. [Wait there for us. There are spiders up ahead.]
You message the group: [okay guys, Ozma is already here. We’re going to get to this tempura dominatrix room of theirs. Then my plan is to …]
If your plan is to fight Ozma, because this is the first level-appropriate villain you’ve encountered so far, go to 46
You and Squat sit down at a bench and watch as Gary approaches the scientists, then sits down to chat with them.
“Gary is such a dweeb,” you say.
“The dweebiest,” Squat answers.
“Hey, is it true that Octopuds can display things on their skin?”
“Sure,” you say. With a thought, your skin goes black and images of flying toasters appear.
“Hah! Great,” Squat says. Some of his swarm of tiny bugs separate off, joining into little robotic flying toasters.
Your skin displays a waterfall coming off a mountain, as a man in a canoe paddles desperately to avoid getting sucked down. Squat’s bugs reform into the mountain and river, with bugs popping off the waterfall like flecks of water, and the tiny robotic pilot squawking as he paddles against the current.
You display a projection of a tesseract, a four-dimensional figure, with sides appearing and disappearing apparently from no-where. Squat reforms into an octopus getting eaten by a shark.
Gary finally returns from his conversation. “Guys, the scientists explained everything. The SPARGbots were designed to protect people and prevent illegal time travel. The scientists don’t know why, but the robots are sending people back in time. Ozma is already here, including someone Octojean might recognize, but I think we might find some clues in the station control room.”
[Pippi, display who I might recognize!] you command Pippi.
An image of a woman in a sbusiness space suit appears, with the name Mary displayed underneath. [Mary Underware shot you down when you propositioned her at the gym Christmas party, saying “absolutely, under no circumstances, will I ever permit myself any romantic involvement with you, Octojean Veinous.”]
Mary is clearly playing hard to get. To review your best pick-up lines and give Mary a second chance at paradise, go to 47
You have no idea what you’re doing at all, do you?
You lost. Don’t feel bad, it happens to most Octojeans. Time to throw away the book, like we discussed in the introduction.
No really, it’s the end. You can stop clicking now.