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Chapter 26: Production Model

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The resident of the deep, square pit had reverted from an oversized green amphibian to his true form, and immediately used his increased lung capacity to voice his displeasure at his current situation.

"Keeper! You little witch! I knew you were rotten to the core! Knew it from the start!" Boris the barbarian frothed up at the faces of his captors, who were peering over the edge of his prison. He homed in on Ami, who had expected no better of him.

"Should we get him out of there?" Snyder asked to her left, scratching his chin.

"And you! Traitors all! Spineless, snivelling cowards, bowing your legs before a Keeper to save your own hides! You are even worse! Turning your backs on the Light and all that is Good! If I ever get my fingers on you-"

"What do you think?" Cathy sneered at the redhead.

"Well, we can't just keep him in that pit forever," Ami said, then ducked under a thrown pebble.

"He's certainly making that sound like a favourable option," Cathy grumbled. "Hey, stop it you moron! We aren't actually evil, we just joined up because there was no other way out!"

Jered risked poking his head over the edge of the pit once more, investigating the clanging noises from below. "I agree that keeping him down there doesn't sound very feasible. Mainly because he's hacking handholds into the stone with that axe of his."

Ami sighed and stepped closer to the. "Mr. Boris. Why don't you put that axe down and let us talk about this calmly?"

"I'll put this axe down after I have taken your head!" came the roared answer from below, and the sounds of furious hacking redoubled.

"Come now. You must be aware that you couldn't possibly defeat us all alone," the short-haired girl tried again.

"I'll bloody well try!" the answer shot back without the slightest hesitation.

Ami turned to look at the others helplessly. The brown-haired man standing to her right just shrugged his shoulders, while Snyder shook his head.

"Just take his axe away, put some bars on top on the pit, and leave him to stew for a while," Cathy suggested. "You can let him out when we have beaten back the Baron, because it won't matter at that point whether he divulges our location or not. And if we lose... well, I suppose the heroes will free him."

"I suppose it's the only option for now," Ami conceded, hanging her head. From the pit, a stream of profanities informed the group about what Boris thought of that plan.

"You'll take my axe over my dead body," the trapped brute promised.

Ami clenched her fists in anger. Why did that big nitwit have to make everything difficult? She didn't have time for this! Without further ado, she dropped an imp on his head. The creature squealed in surprise as it impacted with the giant's skull. Scrambling for purchase, the little bug-eyed minion caught hold of Boris' shaggy black mane. Its arms barely managed to encircle the huge man's head, and its eyes found themselves on the same height as the man's chin as it hung around Boris' neck like a grotesque necklace. Despite the blow to his head and the creature trying not to drown in his beard, the warrior kept a strong grip on his weapon. A slender shadow plunged down from above even as he took one hand of the heft of his axe to claw at the imp in his hair.

Ami jumped after the imp. If Sailor Moon could take out three mind-controlled musclemen in senshi form at once, then surely a a single, distracted opponent should be no problem. The senshi of Mercury knew that she was acting slightly irrationally, but she felt that if she didn't vent some anger and frustration soon, she would explode. Besides, she was reasonably sure that she was physically superior to the man while transformed. Her opponent's eyes shone with fury and sudden hope as she alighted on the bottom of the square hole in the ground that was barely as wide as two men were tall. His grin became a howl of pain as the imp pulled itself upward and bit into his lower lip, giggling in glee. Ami used the distraction to close the distance, ducking under an axe swing that never came near her. Boris had never been the most precise of fighters, and the imp blocking his line of sight didn't help his accuracy any. The stunned observers above were treated to the sight of a slight blue-haired girl dressed only in a bikini top and a loincloth darting toward the raging giant, and then sweeping his legs out from under him.

The man sat up with a growl, and the imp attached to his face let go and hurled itself aside, letting out a frightened yelp as it somersaulted out of the path of Ami's incoming fist. The smack of knuckles impacting skin ping-ponged around the walls of the shaft, its echo persisting even after the man's head jerked back from the shock, slackening features seemingly distorted by the force of the blow. A spray of foamy spittle flew from Boris' mouth, and a large bruise started to form on his cheeks moments after he hit the ground.

Ami stood over her defeated opponent and instinctively raised her fist in triumph. She was surprised at how euphoric this felt. Despite her aching muscles, she found herself revitalised and full of energy. With a start, she realised that she had picked the most up-close and personal way of disarming her opponent, without giving much thought to less vicious alternatives. Oh, sure, this had probably be the fastest way to do it, but not necessarily the most gentle or safest. Was being in a brutal environment like this influencing her behaviour? If she was completely honest with herself, she had been wanting to beat some sense into the bigoted giant for a long time. Why had she given in to these violent impulses? Was it because the social contract that would frown upon such an action did not apply here? Was it the stress, or was something more sinister at work? Feeling cold all of a sudden, she walked over to where Boris' axe had fallen, picked it up, and sent it to her treasure chamber. Then, she knelt down to the unconscious man and healed the bruising on his cheek. It was the least she could do.

She teleported out of the pit, and immediately Jered was on her case "Mercury! What were you thinking? You could have gotten hurt or killed, and you are vital for everyone's continued survival here! Don't be so reckless!"

"I know," Ami muttered, turning away. "I don't want to talk about it. Imps! get a mattress and a bucket down there! And put some bars on top!"


The rest of the day was very busy for Ami. The more underlings she acquired, the more important it became to solve the transformation issue, as all of them were using equipment of some sort or other that could be overwritten by the involuntary clothing change. She had taken a moment to put on the spare Sailor Mercury uniform in her room, and now felt more like herself again. After looking over the footage she had recorded of the dungeon heart during multiple transformations in the Reaper body, and then comparing the results with the data of Cathy using Shabon Spray and Shabon Spray Freezing, she had some idea on how to get rid of the problem. Apparently, there was some sort of minor backwash of her own magic when she transformed, which travelled along the mystical connections between her employees and the dungeon heart and applied the cosmetic changes to anything it encountered. Now that she was aware of the mechanism, she already had some ideas about how to stop it. A specifically tuned ward on the Heart could simply ground the surge, but simply concentrating hard enough might also be able to do the trick. She'd get Snyder to make that ward, she decided. He wasn't getting along very well along with her new assistants. Speaking of which...



The laboratory had been expanded to provide space for the needs of five researchers. Only a few of Ami's more impressive failures at golem designs were still in the room, shoved against the right wall, where they served as decorative, if disturbing, candle holders. The centrepiece of the laboratory was the huge sturdy table upon which documentation, open books, and various bubbling cauldrons rested. An open space with workbenches and a bunch of stacked rectangular rocks occupied the left side of the chamber, while the wall directly opposite the entrance held the shelves containing tomes scavenged from Arachne's dungeon. While spacious by any standards, the lab still seemed too small to hold the egos of two of the researchers, which were clashing violently as a result.

In the left corner, half bald with tufts of white hair and moustache of same colour, an old man was stirring a large pot of bubbly liquid. A green, three-fingered hand reached up out of the soup, but he whacked it with a long iron spoon, and it retreated back under the surface. Pulling a small vial out of a coat pocket, he carefully dripped three drops into the mixture, and then quickly slammed the lid on the concoction, securing it with a half-turn. On cue, the pot started to dance around while something inside banged against its metal walls and let out horrible shrieks. The mad professor nodded to himself, seemingly satisfied. "A further fine step towards unravelling the secrets of the universe!"

Sitting at the table, a pale man with his hair in tonsure looked up from his book on the table. The two chairs his fatty bulk was occupying creaked in protest as he shoved them backward to better face the taller speaker in the stained coat. "What would an insane alchemist like you know about the mysteries of the universe, anyway? Trying to glean insight from mixing base elements, you are pathetic. My infinitely superior knowledge stems from my god Himself!"

The shaking of the kettle stopped, and the gap between the lid and the pot widened on its own, revealing that the piece of cooking equipment had grown a set of serrated iron fangs. The white-haired researcher poked it expectantly with his spoon once, then retreated a step as the container began spinning rapidly around its own axis. Despite the distraction, he found time to look over his shoulder and reply "And where is your god now? Oh, right, dissolving in the stomach of Azzathra, you ex-high priest of a dead god!" the man in the stained coat taunted, "How does it feel to have gambled on the wrong horse and lost everything?"

The solid black eyes of the fat, blue-robed man seemed to suck in the light as he spat out a single, hateful word. His mocker bent over and dropped to the ground in total silence, grimacing and writhing as if suffering in unbearable agony. "I bet not as much as that," the evil monk snickered. "Let that be a lesson to you: I may have lost most of my power, but I am still far stronger than a madman like you will ever be!"

It was this situation that Ami teleported into. Taking one look at the man on the floor, she ordered "Stop that right now! What do you think you are doing? I hired you to do research, not fight among each other!" She rushed to the old man's side, kneeling down to check his pulse, and nodded with relief that the spasms had stopped.

"Ah, Keeper," the monk spun around to address her directly, "we were just discussing the issue of who will be the head researcher. I think we have come to a satisfying conclusion." The expression on his sallow, pale features was not exactly mocking, but certainly came into spitting distance of it. "Or does anyone else of you care to dispute my leadership qualities?"

Ami looked around and spotted Snyder and the tall, black robed wizard huddling together under the lab's table, shaking their head rapidly. The contortions required to get the latter's long, haggard frame into that cover couldn't be good for his back. The twitching form of the white-haired alchemist on the ground was in no shape to object, either.

"You see, Keeper? One possible source of potential inefficiency already thwarted." He met the blue-haired girl's gaze with his own.

Ami suppressed a shudder. Those dead-looking eyes gave her the creeps, and she held no illusions that the man was anything but an entirely loathsome, self-serving evil bastard. The only reason she had hired him was that she had precious little other options, and his knowledge of the arcane arts certainly seemed impressive. Besides, while he is here in my dungeon, he won't be doing evil elsewhere.

Still, he had been bullying her other minions already. She could reprimand him, but that would lead to resentment, and there might be more power struggles that she didn't need. If she said nothing, she would send the wrong signals. What to do? Ah, this might just work. "Your willingness to shoulder the responsibility for the team's progress, or lack thereof, does you credit." She even managed to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. Ah, that wiped the self-satisfied expression right off his face. "However, I will require Snyder for a side project that is unrelated to the main one."

The redhead's face lit up at that prospect, and he scrambled to get out of his shelter. "Ah yes, yes. I'm certain you picked a job for which my special expertise makes me uniquely qualified," he said, brushing the dust out of his bowl-shaped haircut.

"No problem, the bumbler is pretty useless anyway," the fat mystic replied. "We might actually progress faster without him getting underfoot."

Snyder had a sour look on his face as he stomped over to Ami's side, but didn't dare contradict the newly appointed head researcher. She noted that he had already visited the troll tailor, as the cut of his new robes was much better than his toga had ever been, even if the cloth was still re-purposed red curtain. "Speaking of progress, how are you coming along with these ideas of mine?" the young Keeper asked.

The dark monk wobbled over to the table, picking up a heap of papers covered in tight scribbles. "Well, Keeper, your work on adapting the imp spell to animate golems instead is rather amazing. I would not have enjoyed the months of working out all those equations myself." With the flattery out of the way, he dared progress to the criticism "However, I have my doubts about the usefulness of the golems you intend to create. They will have the strength of imps, which, even if you use multiple imps, will not add up to much."

"I have a way around that," Ami dismissed his concern with more confidence than she felt. "Have you thought of a strategy for solving the coordination issue?"

The monk raised an eyebrow at her answer, revealing more of the pure black orbs under his eyelids. "Oh, that one will be easy. Your basic templates are imps, which are already wired to obey the orders from their Keeper without question, even without spoken communication. We can build on that. If the imps bound to the construct recognise the entity in charge of the whole construct as their Keeper, they will cooperate without question or hesitation."

Ami got a thoughtful look on her face as she considered the implications. None of the ones she was coming up with were very palatable. "Do you have any particular method in mind to achieve this?"

The man nodded, making his double chin quiver. "You will have to create a new imp variant that has a stronger connection to the dungeon heart, and imprint some of your own personality on it. Possibly erase its own mind first, but destroying a mind is much simpler than rebuilding it anyway," his hand went to his collar in an unconscious gesture, grasping for something that was no longer there. "Alternatively, you could torture some of your useless goblins to death and use their tormented ghosts to-"

"NO!" Ami quickly interrupted him. "I want these constructs to be entirely conjurable from thin air and magic," she elaborated when he looked angry by her quick dismissal of his suggestion. "I don't expect them to survive long in battlefield conditions, so they must be easy to replace."

"I see." Tasbaal leafed through his pages of script again, frowning "That spells doom for the more complex multi-part designs. Those would have to be assembled under lab conditions, as the individual parts alone are sufficiently complicated to require a dedicated use of the manufacturing spell. A shame, really. There is some real potential there."

"I'll defer to your judgement then," Ami nodded, "we'll focus on getting one of the simpler models to work as fast as possible. I don't care what the result looks like, as long as it's useful. There will be time to refine the process at a later point."

"As you wish, Keeper. As for the fabrication spell, that's his job," the man in the rich but tattered robes pointed at the floor, "but he seems to be sadly unavailable at the moment. Lanky! Update the Keeper on our achievements!"

"Th-that's not really my nam-" the beanstalk-like wizard in the black robes started to protest, but was rudely cut off by the fat ex-priest.

"NOW!"

"Yes, Master!" The much taller, but soft-spoken warlock approached hastily, nearly tripping over his feet in the process. "Keeper? As you can see, we have researched a matter rearrangement spell that already allows for some directed fabrication in a two-dimensional plane, all that remains is to..."


Now reasonably sure that her new minions wouldn't be killing each other and were actually doing what they wanted them to do, Ami transported herself to the first library, whose colours were still as black as the day she created it.

"Oh, it's you, Mercury." Jered was sitting at one of the reading tables, an inactive crystal ball to his right. His palms were resting on a stack of colourful papers, which Ami recognised as different styles of maps. From what she could see, they were varying vastly in quality. Some were simple dots and lines on yellowed parchment, others were drawn in a rich style with elaborate mountains and fortresses and pictures of dragons, and yet others looked more like what she expected from modern maps. "This shifty trader came through with his promise of providing us maps, though he charged an arm and a leg for it. However, as you can see, it's all a big mess." He swept some trinkets out of the way, making enough room on the polished charcoal-coloured surface to spread some of the parchments next to each other. "Some of them overlap, all use different scales, and a few even contradict each other."

"Thank you for handling this for me," Ami smiled. "Now let's see what I can do with this." The maps were of great interest to her, as they were her first glance at the geography of this new world. The bluish glass of her visor slid over her eyes, and she pulled out her Mercury computer and started typing. With each map scanned, her picture of the world became a bit clearer as she scaled and rotated the different pieces on her screen, slowly assembling the patchwork into a coherent whole. The wavy-haired man stared over her shoulder as she worked.

"That's useful magic, he commented," seemingly impressed. "I don't think even most nobles have a map that shows that much of the world. Too bad it's so small on that screen, though."

Ami entered her final keystrokes. "Actually, I just returned from the lab. The fabrication spell I need isn't complete yet, but for flat surfaces, such as maps, it should work fine already. The blue-haired girl swivelled in her chair, facing one of the blank walls. She breathed in deeply and focused on her connection with the dungeon heart, pulling in mana and shaping it to match the pictures on her screen. On the wall, a glowing rectangle materialised, matching the image in her mind.

"Not bad for a first try," Jered said, his voice sounding rather mewling as he was pinching his nose shut. "Is it supposed to smell like that?"

Ami fanned the air in front of her face with one hand. "Sorry, but unexpected side effects are to be expected with experimental and untested spells." She returned her attention to the continents displayed on the wall. it looked as if this world had three main landmasses, and her current location was on the north-western one, the largest of them all. The small, roundish continent to the east had been drawn in red and black on most maps, and after a look at its name, the senshi realised why. The Avatar Island was a place that had been completely devastated by keepers around two decades ago, and was now covered in soot, sulphur, and lava. A true outpost of hell on the face of the world.

The elongated, boomerang-shaped continent to the south seemed friendlier, even though there were a lot of blank spaces. The region Ami's own dungeon was located on seemed comparatively tightly settled, which was a drawback, given current circumstances. She'd have to find a more secluded location once she figured out how to make new dungeon hearts, as she would otherwise be constantly under siege once her location here became known. She frowned at the map, noting the closeness to this country's capital, and decided that she needed more strategic information. "Jered, did you learn anything about other Keepers while we were in the Underworld city?"

"A bit. There were some grumbling minions gossiping about previous employers. I think two or three might match your criteria. Single dungeon heart and independent. I only have a rough idea of where they are, and I'd basically have to work from landmarks these guys in the tavern mentioned."

"That's already a good starting point. Could you please outline the general areas on the map?" Ami requested. He did so, and she considered the hatched regions, which looked to be around a hundred kilometres across each. "Hmm, I had hoped for something more definite. Do you think you could go back to the Underworld and find out more? You don't have to accept, I know it's dangerous. Oh, and you can take the goblins as an escort. They are in the lowest tunnels at the forge, where Cathy is being fitted with new armour."

The brown-haired man was silent for a while, but then nodded reluctantly. "If finding and defeating another Keeper is the only way for you to learn how to move your dungeon heart to some safer place, we don't really have other options, so I'll do my part."

"Thank you. I appreciate it," Ami smiled at him. Her eyes were completely blue, which became a rarer and rarer event, as Jered had observed. Her thoughts returned to the golem research, and she teleported back to the laboratory, but had a nagging feeling in the back of her head that she was forgetting something.


The corridor was dark and empty, except for worm-like appendages that slithered forward, making soft wet slithering sounds that mixed with the droplets of water plummeting from the ceiling. The Keeper did not seem to be in a playful mood, which was boring, the tentacle monster noted. However, it was a fiercely independent creature, and could find other ways to amuse itself. Too bad the imps were scared of it, but exploring the dungeon was sort of fun too. Oh, what did we have here? Looks like a prison cell, with the horizontal bars covering the pit. Occupied too! Lucky! The monster peered down at the huge sleeping figure on the mattress below. The bars were no hindrance to its squishy, deformable body, and within moments, the lump of tentacles disappeared down the hole. Time for the real amusement!


Ami had worked for hours, running herself and her team ragged. She had dark circles under her eyes and looked like death warmed over, but a smile was playing around her lips as she turned to Jered, Snyder and Cathy, who were staying close to the entrance of the door. Her lab assistants had pretty much collapsed where they stood, though in the case of the creepy monk, it looked as if he was sleeping with his eyes open.

"And here, I proudly present our first fully functional golem model." Ami stated, indicating the lumpy shape standing in the centre of the workspace. Its glittering form was only a head taller than the short-haired bluette.

"It's made of ice," Cathy sounded sceptical as she looked the humanoid form up and down. "How is it supposed to survive the rigours of combat?"

"Well, it's not only ice. It's filled with water inside," Ami explained.

"Water. Uh huh." The blonde's lack of appreciation for the creation was clearly audible in her voice.

Ami seemed undeterred by the lack of reaction. "The trick is that the water is malleable and needs no extra effort to move around, since it's animated, same as the outer hollow shell, adding extra power to the construct. Water and ice are basically the same thing, and turning one into the other just requires cooling or heating. So when the golem is moving and cracks form in its structure due to hull deformation, the water from inside spills into them and is magically frozen, fixing the damage. Same, if there's too much material during contraction, the excess can just be melted and stored within the golem's hollow. This approach is much, much cheaper energy-wise than either turning the required area elastic, or continuously summoning and banishing new matter to allow for movement, as is done in conventional golems." She took a deep breath after that speech, gauging the reaction of her companions.

"Well, well, aside from the fact that it's made of ice, it looks as if a child put a few clumps of mud together in a rough approximation of the human shape," Snyder commented critically, "very unappealing."

"It doesn't matter what it looks like, as long as it works!" Ami grumbled in irritation. Sure, it wasn't a work of art, but it wasn't that bad. All in all, she had wished for a more enthusiastic reception of her project. "I guess you'll have to see it in action," she said. "Cathy, would you stab it, please? Don't worry, it won't fight back."

The blonde cautiously approached the shimmering figure, her new armour clanking around her. With a lightning-quick stab, she thrust her weapon at the thing's chest. There was momentary resistance when metal encountered ice, then a shattering noise, and the golem found itself impaled on the blade all the way through. "Well, that wasn't much of a challenge."

Ami just smirked and watched as the blonde attempted to pull the blade back. It didn't budge until the swordswoman put a considerable amount of force behind the motion. The weapon came free with a sloshing noise, and the ice re-sealed once the obstruction was gone. Except for a dent, Cathy's opponent seemed unharmed.

"Well, I admit they might be tougher than one would expect. How do you put them down?" she asked with professional interest.

"Too much damage at once, get rid of its water, or remove the block holding the controlling entity that's floating inside. They also don't take heat very well," the young Keeper explained. Everyone crowded around the icy shape to look through its transparent shell inside.

"The controller is that glowy piece of ice with your symbol on it within the head?" Jered asked. At Ami's nod, he said "Not too shabby. I imagine it's not easier to defeat than a regular warrior, then."

"I can't help but notice that it didn't regenerate the injury in the exact same shape as it was in before," Snyder remarked.

"Nicely spotted," Ami complimented. "That's a feature. The golem will adjust for loss of water by shrinking."

"What can it do offensively? You are using imps to power this, aren't you?" Cathy asked.

"Well... Golem! Target the hand of that statue over there, one shot! Fire when ready!" Ami ordered. The construct moved for the first time, slowly lifted its arm with a grinding noise that spoke of ice breaking and resealing itself continuously, too fast for the eye to follow. It pointed a single digit at the indicated target, and with a loud crack, the whole finger shot forward on a thin fountain of water. The projectile impacted its target, and both exploded into a cloud of glittering shards and stone chips.

"Okay, now I'm impressed," Snyder admitted. "How did you manage to teach it a magical ability?"

"No magic, just science. It uses water-filled interconnected tubes of different diameters to multiply the force that can be exerted by an imp, at the cost of speed, or the reverse. While it looks impressive, it is about equivalent to being hit with an imp's pick." Ami dumbed down the basic principles behind the inner workings of her golem. There was no real need to go into the details of the engineering problems she'd had to solve to avoid it shattering from the water pressure if it took heavy blows. "However, the slower it moves, the more power it can exert, up to the limits of what its ice can take, of course. It would be a bad idea to let yourself be grabbed by one."

"That re-grown finger looks much better than the original one," Jered pointed out.

Ami looked at the digit, which had the same shape as a human one now, and scratched her head in confusion. "Well, I don't know why it does that," she admitted.

"Can I test its combat skills properly?" Cathy asked. She had foregone her sword for a hammer she had picked from one of the workbenches.

"By all means," Ami smiled. "Golem, no hydraulics, disable target!"

The two opponents started circling each other under the watchful eyes of the observers. Cathy darted in, striking a blow at the lumpy figure's shoulder that broke through the shell and sent water fountaining around. She quickly withdraw, seeing the opening already healing. The retaliatory punch of the animated construct was easily avoided. Soon, it became clear who the winner would be as the blonde darted in and out again and again, inflicting heavy damage on the creature while staying untouched.

"It sucks," Jered concluded, "fights like an imp."

"No, no. It is more skilled than that, but I think Ms. Cathy is still benefiting from these enchantments Mercury put on her. She might have more trouble if she was fighting with mere human ability."

Ami just watched quietly, noticing something disturbing. Whenever her golem healed, even if it was just from moving its own limbs, the regenerated shape became more human-like. A terrible suspicion started to form a few seconds into the battle, which was confirmed when Cathy took off most of the ice monster's head with a swing of her hammer. When it's face grew back, its frozen features were Ami's own. Shock turned to mortification when she noted that the similarities became more accurate and anatomically correct with each exchange of blows. "Stop! Wait!"

The combatants separated, and Jered let out an appreciative whistle at the sight, causing Ami's blush to darken.

"That shouldn't have happened! Why did it do that? Shabon Spray Freezing!" the embarrassed girl quickly covered the all-too-lifelike statue in a concealing layer of fresh ice. "Tasbaal! Explain yourself! What went wrong?"

The fat man pulled himself into sitting position with a tired wheeze. "Nothing. Everything went perfectly. If you are referring to the golem's increasing likeness to yourself, I assume that it has to do with the self-image of the controlling entity. It's based on you, has to think of itself as similar to the Keeper, which is you, and therefore it will restore its body to look like you. No, it can't be fixed." With a yawn, he lay down again.

"But, but..." Ami stammered, still blushing.

"Whatever happened to 'it doesn't matter what it looks like, as long as it works'?" Jered taunted with a grin.

"I... Argh!" the teenager didn't have the option to sink into the ground from shame, but teleporting away was seeming more and more like an acceptable substitute.

"Wait, it's based on you, Mercury? Does that mean you gave it your combat skills too?" Cathy suddenly asked.

Glad to be back on a safe topic, Ami nodded.

"Well then, I'll expect you to join us for training tomorrow. Aside from your strength, speed, and magic, your fighting style is atrocious! Don't think I'll go easy on you if your skill affects the whole army!"

"Eep!" this last surprise was too much for the tired girl, and she disappeared into thin ait.


A probing tentacle protruded from between the gaps between the bars over the pit, and fumbled for purchase. A second and a third joined it soon. Then, a jerk went through the green pseudopods, and two disappeared back down the hole, as if something had yanked on them from below.

"Argh! Let go, you big dolt! I don't want to be your rope!"

The third tentacle had wrapped itself around a bar and was resisting the pull from below, becoming thinner as it elongated elastically.

"No! Not more knots! Take your fingers off me, dammit!"

With a twoing noise, the slimy appendage lost its grip on the bar and followed its predecessors down.

"NOOOO! HEEELP!"

Previous chapter: Next chapter:
Chapter 25: Assistants Acquired Chapter 27: Picking the First Target

ReferencesEdit

Source: http://addventure.bast-enterprises.de/226815.html

Attached comments:

  • Just a thought, what if the golems can merge? Control cubes and all?
    You end up with two control cubes in one body who both think they are in charge, and so does the body. As they can't coordinate with each other, hilarity ensues.
  • Just how much of Ami's judgment and values do the golems kept?
    Well, considering that we are starting from lobotomised imps, and then shoving fragments of Ami's subconsciousness pertaining to identity and self image in, plus some specialised bits related to motor skills... yeah. Not going to win any personality contests soon.
    Also, would Ami really make cannon fodder where each individual is a likeable real person in its own right?
  • I was thinking the opposite, since they don't have to remain frozen. If it's in an environment where keeping it frozen is too tiring, by all mean allow it to melt. This will allow them to 'sweat', and they would do so much more effectively than humans, because they can afford to lose much more of their body mass to evaporation before they die.
    Due to the limitations of the 'technology', being in a hot environment drives the mana cost of operating the golem through the roof. Melting by itself isn't the primary problem (though it is a concern). On second thought, an evironment that's way below the freezing point might be even worse.

    I don't think Cathy could dart in smash a golem with a hammer then get away as easily if the blast of cold water froze to her face and such durring the spray.
    I might be remembering this incorrectly, but doesn't water that's below 0°C freeze near-instantaneously when suffering a mechanical shock, such as a blow in combat? So that sounds like a good way to make the golem inoperational after it takes a hit.

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