I started coming to terms with this hidden world of germs. The implications of a layer of grime invisible to my kind were staggering. The consequences were far-reaching, and it would take me time and a decent amount of effort to fully understand the scope of the issue. The first things to consider were the immediate and first-order consequences. Considering that I had never gotten sick, I assumed I was safe from germs. My human creators likely considered this threat during my creation, even if I hadn't realized it. However, I didn't think Beatrice was immune. Plus, she was an undisputed magnet for trouble. In fact, I was surprised that Beatrice hadn't gotten sick already. She was constantly in contact with all these germs, so there was no way that luck would last. On the other hand, given her track record, this already might as well have been a minor miracle.
Anyways, I needed a solution, and soon. I tried positioning myself above a small test patch I had scanned with my improved sensors. While over it, I ran my vacuum at absolute full power. I knew that this could potentially damage the stone, but it was a risk I needed to take; for research purposes only, of course. I wasn't panicking. After 60 seconds of vacuuming, I backed up and scanned the area again. The germ population had only been reduced by about 2%. I repeated the process several more times, but my approach became less and less effective each time. Eventually, my sensors weren't even registering a change in the number of germs.
All this trial and error did seem to work my scan out, though. Maybe I was just getting better and interpreting it, but I started to notice a difference in the types of germs. There were viruses, bacteria, and parasites. One looked to be an amoeba. There were also some things I didn't know to classify. Still, I did see the broad categories with more clarity.
There had to be a better solution. Determined, I popped out my mop and tried swiping at the area. Horrified, I saw that my mop now had a bunch of germs on it. Quickly, I wrung it out inside of my dustbin. Luckily the mop seemed to be refreshed when I popped it out again. Yet, despite my concern, the swipe with the mop also made a negligible difference. I even tested wet and dry mopping techniques to no avail. Damp mopping appeared capable of moving some of these microscopic mess makers, but it wasn't nearly enough.
I began trundling back and forth, pathing in small ovals along the floor. What else did I have? My arm wouldn't help, not directly, at least. Maybe there was a tool humans had to deal with this kind of threat, but I needed to know what it was to identify or use it. The only thing left was my lighting attachment…
I stopped. What had the voice called it? A sanitation lamp? I knew what sanitation meant. It should help me make things clean. But I had yet to figure out how exactly. So far, it had appeared to be a great disappointment. It was just a blue light. The strange and inefficient light source might help me find my way around. But overall, it was rather useless. Maybe I just hadn't been able to see its effects at the time, though. Humans clearly knew about germs, so they must have a way to combat them. Perhaps the lamp was the tool that I needed?
I turned my lamp on, its ghostly violet light shining in front of me. Not much happened at first, but I was patient. I stayed unmoving, scanning the area for any status updates. Then slowly, ever so slowly, I watched the percentage of germs tick down.
The process was slow but accelerated as the light continued to shine. It took a solid minute to fully clean a 1 square foot area. When it was done, though, that area was cleaned. My sensors indicated a 0% germ presence. I had killed 100% of this scourge. Not 99.9%, 100%. I took a moment to marvel at the absolutely spotless section before me. This was indeed a great victory for all those who subscribed to the ideals of cleanliness. We had been infiltrated. We'd been deceived by a devious foe that had stuck under our noses despite our vigilance. Despite being on guard, it had tricked us. But now, it was time for revenge. I would start now, and I would sanitize everything I could.
As I embarked on my crusade, I learned a few things. The first was that the lamp took a lot out of me. I could keep it on for a long time, but I felt my energy draining. I estimated that the lamp used approximately 0.5% of my maximum energy per minute at full power. Also, I could dim the light, but it was far less efficient that way. Finally, as the percentage of germs in my scans ticked, I noticed some tiny squiggles floating in the corner of my vision. They appeared and disappeared more rapidly than I was used to. Perhaps the size had something to do with that?
After uprooting the microscopic plague from one hallway, I decided to rethink my approach. I supposed I couldn't go on a full-on crusade yet. However, I promised Beatrice we would explore the banded iron door soon. Plus, I'd like to get her help with this somehow. I didn't think she had her own sanitation lamp, so she had yet to participate in my crusade. Maybe humans had other methods of handling germs that I wasn't privy to. Also, before focusing on this, I needed to train her somehow.
Just because I was intent on eradicating these germs didn't mean I could neglect my other duties. The germs were more of a practical issue than most of the other messes I cleaned, true. However, visible messes were my initial and primary concern. The germs were an additional responsibility on top of that. And really, if things looked dirty, was there any point in sanitizing them? Probably, but I just couldn't stand by and let things look dusty, so I would have to keep that as a priority first. Also, it seemed like the rate at which I could sanitize was incredibly slow. So I'd have to pick a couple of high-priority areas and sanitize those first. I think I would start with the ones that Beatrice uses most frequently. She would surely be at risk, and I didn't want her exposed to anything so harmful that she couldn't handle herself. That meant I should work on the library. She also customarily charged there, so it seemed extra crucial that I sanitized that area.
As I rolled over to the library, I considered why Beatrice always charged in this room. She'd been doing this for several days now. I knew my large humans would always move my small humans into their beds. Those beds were for human charging. So why didn't she use one of those? There were dozens of open ones that we had cleaned together. I supposed if she insisted she could sleep on the library floor, I wouldn't stop her, but suboptimal charging wasn't a good idea. Oh well.
As I opened the door to the library, Beatrice looked up. She recognized me, waved, and smiled before returning to her books. She seemed to get a lot of motivation out of them, but they were taking up a lot of time too. I supposed that the beauty of the blocks might be helping her through her repairs. She couldn't clean while being repaired, but I worried that she would keep spending so much time with them even after she could clean again. Of course, she could if she wanted. But I did appreciate her help.
She didn't seem interested in what I was doing, so I went where she customarily charged. Once I got there, I began slowly shining my light all over her blanket, pillow, and the surrounding area. Then, monitoring my advanced sensors, I slowly swept back and forth, taking a solid 5 minutes to eradicate the germs. When I was done, I realized Beatrice was standing next to me, just watching me do my work.
I tried to figure out how to tell her about the germs, but I couldn't. It was just too complicated of a concept. I didn't have nearly enough vocabulary or ability to communicate with humans like that. Also, how could I explain this without sounding like a conspiracy nut? "I'm not paranoid, I swear. I just have advanced sensors that let me see the invisible threat that no one else can."
That was assuming that the humans here didn't already know about germs. So far, I figured that was a safe assumption. Compared to my humans back home, they did seem backward in many ways. If she didn't have advanced sensors, she probably couldn't see them. Then why would she believe me? For now, she would just have to be confused. Maybe sometime later, I could explain to her what was going on, or she could get advanced sensors of her own. I wondered if the voice yelled at her too?
Bee stood before the banded iron door. It had been a busy couple of days, but she thought she was prepared. A pack rested on her shoulders, bulging with everything she needed to bring. Books on standard catacomb features, several bestiaries, a few notebooks full of recipes she might use, ingredients, and a couple of makeshift weapons. It had taken her most of yesterday to gather and plan everything. She had decided against bringing too much food or water. She had a couple of skins and some snacks. But there shouldn't be any reason they couldn't just leave and go back up for bed, right? She was probably just overexcited because it felt like a real adventure. Probably.
Next to her foot sat Void. It was bringing nothing; she would have been surprised if it had brought anything. It really wouldn't need anything to survive. Of course, who knew what it had brought inside its stomach? After Void had spit out the demons in her defense, Bee realized that it could be hiding anything inside itself. It also seemed that it could regurgitate anything it consumed just as quickly as it ate. Void might only benefit from her being there if there were multiple levels and stairs. And she wasn't even sure if she was necessary in those cases or if Void preferred things that way.
Her arm was almost entirely functional, but she still had some bandages wrapped around it. She had discarded the sling sometime during packing. She merely needed to be careful about lifting anything too heavy for a day or so, and then she should be fine. But just in case, she had also brought some splints and bandages. In her pack were also the supplies and tools to make enough salves for a dozen broken bones. Better to be safe than sorry. Especially if Void might need her for the stairs.
She looked to Void for confirmation. It gave her a short affirmative noise. Then, with a sigh of resignation, she pulled a mallet used for tenderizing chicken out from her belt. With her good hand, she pulled back and swung at the lock.
The lock broke apart with absolutely no issue; she probably could have just tugged it off with her hands. If they were going to go through all this effort to keep the door locked, why wouldn't they use a better one? She wondered if they even knew why they kept it locked. It felt like the mages had treated security like more of a "suggestion" here.
Tucking the mallet back in her belt, she pulled out her cleaver instead. They were her two weapons. She didn't have any skills for combat yet and doubted she ever would. However, if she stuck to the same tool enough, maybe she could influence the system to give her something useful. Her cleaver had served her well so far, and it was practical when not being used as a weapon.
The only other thing of note Bee carried was a broom tucked alongside her pack. There were many uses she had in mind for this. A staff, an emergency crutch, splint wood, or a cleaning tool for extra experience. Between all of the supplies, she admitted that she looked ridiculous, but there wasn't much she could do about it. She was so excited to get to level 10 that she had trouble sleeping on the hard library floor and had spent all her time thinking of what else she might need.
Bee pushed the door open. She held a lighting globe from the library in her hand, lifting it high and shedding light down the stairwell.
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Bio: After reading pretty much everything I could I figured I would try making some of the stories that I wanted to read.