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Robin stared at the woman as she flew throu- no, she was sliding on a thin web, a tiny fly-by-the-wire rocket, slicing into the wing of the dragon with a very familiar tiny knife. It roared, the vibrations shaking the glass of the doors. Robin only noticed moments after that he couldn’t hear the roar at all, nor could he feel the vibrations that seemed to be rattling the glass doors; he had been distracted by the blood that had poured onto the wing of the dragon from the knife gash abruptly turning into a mass of wiggling black and brown specks. He turned away from the battle partially, gulped down the fear that had risen in him at the sight of the massive beast, and drew his revolver, stashing the Machete of the Dark in his pack.

 

He focused his willpower onto his handgun, forcing MANA into it as quickly as possible. It greedily absorbed thirty MANA, the blue bullets snapping into place like a static shock that left weight instead of pain. He reached into his pack and withdrew the Imperial Spinneret, the warm leather-like material pulsing oddly in his hand. Taking a deep breath, Robin put his hand on the glass, preparing it to push it open, only to be startled by a notification.

 

WA-LUIGI that scared me, Robin thought lamely, feeling his heart pounding. Stupid notifications and their terrible timing. “Don’t delay notifications!” Right. Right, me. You’re not stalling, you are having discipline. He scanned the notification, eyes darting side to side.

 

You have cleared the Laboratory of the Mad Scientist! You may now trade in any dungeon-specific System Coins you have earned for dungeon-specific items, including unique items, provided you are aware of their existence; items above Uncommon rarity of which you are unaware will not appear on the list for purchase. The coins may be spent at the entrance of the Laboratory of the Mad Scientist at any time, from the inside or the outside.

 

COINS

REWARD

x50

Ruby Wing of the Wild-type Grapefly

x50

Deverran Broom

x50

Clockwork Insect (Aluminum)

x100

Regal Spinneret

x100

Dagger of the Bloodbrood

x100

Random Potion

x250

Clockwork Insect (Red Brass)

x250

Opal Eye of the Pink Moon Mantis

x250

Crystallized Eye of the Regal Jumping Spider

x400

Linens of the Mad Scientist

x400

Satchel of the Generous Matron

x400

Coinpurse of the Lazy Researcher

x800

Anytool (Apprentice)

x800

Machete of the Dark

x800

Alembic of Elemental Purity

x1000

Crystallized Eye of the Mother of Broods

x1000

Anytool (Journeyman)

x1250

Lab Coat of the Exiled Genius

x1500

Amalgamatape (Silver)

x1750

Amalgamatape (Gold)

x2000

Akashic Adhesive

 

Robin’s eyes widened as he tried to take it all in at once. He glanced outside at the battle between the dragon and the woman. She seemed to be moving around it pretty handily; she might be okay for a second with her… dagger. Robin made a snap decision and selected the Machete of the Dark. It materialized in his right hand, forcing his fingers apart as if it had grown from between them. Robin pushed open the door, already opening his mouth to yell.

 

The words caught in his throat as the hot parched air hit his throat. He gasped, coughing, used to the humid air of the dungeon. He managed to clear his throat and stop coughing, his eyes watering, and yelled again. The dragon roared over him, drowning his voice in terrifying, world-vibrating sound.

 

The dragon and the woman were across the courtyard of the facility. It had contained a garden and fountain before, both using natural water pumped in from some river Robin couldn’t identify. He had been particularly enamored with the fountain and the river fish that seemed able to swim freely in and out of it through the underwater channel. It had contained a statue of a lab rat on top, carrying a clipboard and wearing glasses, honoring the animals used in medical testing.

 

It was gone now, a slag of molten brass sizzling in brown and gray water. The walls of the courtyard were scarred with massive scratches and gouges, and the ground was riddled with furrowed trenches and red-hot cracked tiles. Just crossing it would be a challenge on foot, even without the enraged beast.

 

He yelled again, this time managing to yell when the dragon was not roaring.

 

“Hey! Take this!”, he yelled as he waved the machete over his head. He just now noticed that it had a sheathe around it as the strap bumped into his head. Not fair! Well… did I forget to get the sheathe off of the guard?, he thought as he fumbled to get the sheathe off.

 

The woman noticed him, and even as he looked down to get the machete out of the sheathe, seemed to connect a web from the well she was on and the wall by him, zipping towards him like a train heading at a tied-up damsel in an old movie. He froze, startled, as he saw her face. She looked… angry. Furious, even. Robin hoped the soul-quaking fear he felt every time the dragon roared didn’t show on his face. He snapped the machete up in front of him, holding it by the handle near the blade with three fingers. He stared desperately at her face, hoping she got the message - she was moving far too fast for him to be able to tell her his plan. He saw her face shift to confusion and then a particularly vicious glee, and then the machete was yanked from his hand as she zipped past. He turned to look at her and caught her already moving back towards the dragon on the same web, who was just now fully turned around after being led into the corner.

 

Robin pulled the Imperial Spinneret from where he had been holding it beneath his armpit and began focusing MANA into it. Webs began spooling out of the top of it rapidly, coiling at his feet. Robin pushed his MANA into it until he thought he had enough to cross the courtyard, then reached down to grab a piece of the coil.

 

Robin focused his considerable WILL into a skill he had not used much of before, and found that it didn’t respond. Reshape Web! Come on, Reshape Web! Why isn’t it working!? It worked before! He recalled the skill menu and read the description desperately.

 

Okay… is AURA an external manifestation of MANA? Maybe of WILL? Robin focused his willpower, trying to consciously gather it into a shape. He found himself unconsciously mimicking the Green Lantern, ad shook the image from his head.

 

After a moment, something clicked and he felt his MANA rush into the coil, snapping it instantly into the shape he had been thinking of. I have to picture the entirety of the shape I want, rather than forming it as I go. Huh… maybe it’s closer to the Green Lantern ring constructs than I thought.

 

The web snapped into a “V” shape, with the middle of the “V” rooted on the fountain slag a few feet in front of Robin, and the ends connected on the walls of the facility courtyard. The ‘open end of the “V” was pointed at the dragon. Robin began pouring more MANA into the Imperial Spinneret.

 

*****

 

May snapped towards the dragon, holding the machete the kid had given her. It still wasn’t great, but it was exponentially more useful to her in her current situation than the Knife of the Bloodbrood had been; she had a little bit of reach now! She raked the blade through the soft (well, softer) membrane tissue of the dragon’s wing, dropping off the web and rolling as the reptilian tail came up sharply, snapping the line through sheer force. The web dragged on the spined tail, blowing in the wind like a kite string blowing from a tree. She drew the machete up, preparing to snap a web out to either side of her as a dodge line, when the distinct sound of gunfire boomed through the courtyard. A small blue explosion lit on the chest of the dragon, sending a few chipped scaled tinkling to the ground. Another explosion followed just after, and the dragon began to turn.

 

What are you doing you’re going to get burnt alive run run RUN!

 

“RUN, YOU IDIOT!”, she managed to scream.

 

To her surprise, the kid stayed in place, despite a three-ton dragon rushing him, roaring in berserk fury.

 

May found herself respecting the idiotic bravery the kid was displaying even as she jumped forward, activating her skill Leap of the Skittering Predator.

 

Not bad, kid. You’re still going to die, but not bad!

 

She leapt at the neck of the beast, arcing the machete behind her, ready to swing. She had a clear shot at the massive scaled throat of the beast, attacking from below as it rumbled towards the kid, but there was no way she would make it in time.

 

Oh well. She wasn’t going to blame herself for casualties from fighting a dragon.

 

As the dragon reached the end of the courtyard with the boy, both May and the dragon were surprised then the web dangling from its tail abruptly snapped onto the wall, the dragon stumbling forward as its balance was uprooted. As it roared its fury and began to stand, the “V” web the boy had spun earlier snapped off of the wall, curling around the neck of the dragon like the slapper bracelets that had been popular when she was young. The webs yanked the dragon to the ground, the chin of the dragon’s massive jaw striking the molten slag of the statue it had ruined.

 

May laughed wildly. The dragon was already beginning to stand up, actually ripping the slag lump from the ground in its attempts to rip the steel-like webs, but it was too late.

 

May cut into the neck of the dragon, her web skate carrying her completely past the dragon. She felt the blood of the beast pour onto her, burning wildly, and dropped off of the web to roll on the ground, taking advantage of the furrows that the dragon had carved through the tile and into the dirt. The machete caught on the spine of the beast and she was forced to leave it lodghed in the neck of the dragon.

 

The dirt didn’t extinguish the flames, but she was able to scrape the fire off, leaving it to burn in the dirt along with the skin she had taken with it. She yanked a potion out of her bag and drank it in one gulp, walking towards the kid. She finished the potion and dropped it into her bag over her shoulder, her pace not slowing.

 

The dragon’s body began to disappear, and she cancelled it with her Hunter’s Quarry ability. It was one of her most basic abilities, but it had been invaluable for finding meat and interesting monster parts.

 

Besides, dragonhide might actually be valuable, unlike birds. Or Pirds. Or Poachers. Or the spiders.

 

...

 

I hate this place.

 

The boy was obviously looking at something in his menu; he didn’t seem to notice her approach. She took the opportunity to assess him as she drew closer.

 

What is he, fifteen? Sixteen? No scars, doesn’t seem confident. Probably just a student. Is he Latin? Maybe Spanish? May saw something that made her stop entirely, about three meters from the boy.

 

“Kid.”

 

The boy looked at her, startled.

 

“Y...Yes?”

 

She smiled despite herself at the false start, and revised her mental calculation of his age down a year or two.

 

“Kid…”

 

Her smile hardened, leaving her eyes, but her voice remained chipper and conversational, the dichotomy making the boy tense up.

 

“Where and how did you get Weyker’s gun?”

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spacespeck

Bio: Just read my stories and make wild assumptions, it's more fun that way.

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