A prisoner escaping their bindings and making a run for it could often be traced back to a single act of negligence. Edward Allen knew this better than most people, having been imprisoned and escaped from said prisons many times in his turbulent youth and long career. Which is why he made sure to keep a very watchful eye on the Mimic that held the answers to the Cataclysm in its box-addled mind. It was denied freedom at all times and was given absolutely nothing, not even food or water. Its pathetic attempt at restraining Zone served as a prime example of a situation that could’ve gone awry if it wasn’t for that woman’s Status.
The Spymaster took every feasible measure to make sure the monster he captured would not be allowed to break out. Those creatures were unpredictable and had unnatural abilities and Skills, but one thing universally held true - they relied on MP. Once the mana-draining restraints were in place, all that was left to do was to make sure its physical restraints were not lacking, either. Even in the odd chance it somehow escaped those bindings, it would be unable to lay a tentacle on the electrified cage it was in.
The experienced Rogue had taken every precaution to make sure nothing would go wrong after Boxxy was captured. Part of him even wanted to ride in the same container as the Mimic in order to keep an eye on it, but doing such a thing was perhaps obsessing over things too much. In the end his subordinates convinced him to spend the trip with them in the relative luxury of the lead griffin’s passenger cabin while those prisoners were left to suffer in the cargo container in the back.
However, the singular act of negligence, the one thing that had gone wrong and would provide the key to its escape had occurred just before the monster had been taken into custody. In the gap between getting kicked through a building and having that knock-out potion poured onto it, the Mimic had managed to withdraw a single mana potion from its Storage. It had originally intended to drink it, heal up and run away with all due haste, but got incapacitated before it could do so.
That crystal vial had been rolling around under its tongue ever since then. In a way, Edward’s personal attention had kept it from actually making a run for it. The Mimic then spent the next day quietly observing its surroundings and learning about its restraints. It very nearly blew its one chance at running away when it tried (and failed miserably) to take that black haired woman hostage.
But it stopped itself at the last moment. It persevered and waited, and now its time was finally here. It was the cover of night, in the middle of the air, with nobody around to stop it. If that detestable human was able to catch it even under such circumstances, then its chances of running away with its life were truly zero to begin with.
First, it grew out a short, thick tentacle and pointed it at the small box that was electrifying its prison. Next, crunched the potion and put its plan into motion.
You have used a Mana Potion. MP +200.
Acid started forming inside its appendage while the the Mimic accessed its Storage and took out the other mana potion, its last healing potion and those two shiny daggers it liked so much.
Your magical power has been forcefully dispersed. MP -50.
The metal restraints bolted onto its surface that forced its mouth closed started glowing with a small, red light right as the corrosive liquid gushed forth and splattered against the control box. The deluge did not last longer than a second and a half, however. That small spurt was all the monster could muster before what little MP it had managed to recover had run dry.
Fizzy, who was currently preoccupied with trying to tear into an ice-cold piece of dried meat, heard the splashing sounds coming from the corner and turned her attention to it, just in time to notice the fading glow of its restraints. The dim lighting made it impossible to see what was going on, but she still peered into the darkness.
*KKKHRRT BBZZZZZT PTSUN*
Several worrying noises came out of the control box and a thin column of white smoke rose up from within, only to be swept up in the freezing draft that permeated the flying container. Boxxy slowly stretched out a tentacle and touched the black bars of its cage without getting shocked. Although the acid did nothing to eat away the sturdy bars themselves, it still did its job of messing up the delicate internals of that control box.
Next would be the painful part. Breaking free of these restraints.
It gripped the two daggers inside its mouth and thrust them upwards, into the roof of its mouth.
The Mimic let out a muffled scream of pain as the two pure-white blades pierced its lid. It then gripped the pointy ends carefully so as to not cut itself and took them out of its interior. The pure-white mithril glistened ominously in the moonlight as it waited for its HP to recover and its wounds to heal.
Fizzy’s eyes were unable to completely pierce the darkness. She could just barely see the outline of a Mimic that appeared to be holding two shiny things. It then raised those shiny things and thrust them into itself.
“HNNNNNG!” it groaned.
The daggers dug into its faux-wood flesh, just under one of the places that its mana-draining restraints had been bolted on and fused to it. It was only a surface wound, so the damage wasn’t great, but it still hurt like hell. After about 30 seconds, it finally managed to dislodge one of the bolts that were keeping the metal brace in place. It was removed from its hole and discarded onto the ground.
“Hnn! Hnn! Hnn!” it panted while thick yellow blood oozed out of its surface.
One down. Fifteen to go.
While it’s true mimics were shapeshifters, their chest-shaped shells were something they were unable to morph. Growing various bits and pieces from its surface or altering its color or texture were about the extent of what they could do with them. So something like splitting them open to ‘let go’ of those bolts was impossible. This was something its captors appeared to understand well. It was also why it had to resort to operating on itself in order to remove them.
Once its HP had recovered it moved onto the next one. Over the next hour it kept hurting itself in order to free itself. One after the other the metal bolts keeping it firmly sealed came loose. As for the gnome, she had no idea what was going on and merely covered herself under her blankets in an effort to block out those horrible sounds.
Your magical power is no longer being suppressed. Automatic MP recovery has returned to normal.
Now free of its magic-sealing restraints, the Mimic landed roughly on the floor of its cage. But it wasn’t quite done. Next was its age-old enemy - the metal grating. Thankfully, its captors had revealed the weakness of this once-formidable foe, so it was no longer worried or afraid of it. It sat patiently on the ground, reveling in the sensation of not being bound so tightly anymore. Once its MP had recovered naturally, it put its weapons and unused potions back inside its Storage. Then it stretched out a tentacle, slipped it through the bars in the cage, used Metal Mimicry to recreate the cage’s key from memory and unlocked it.
It triumphantly stepped out of the cage.
“Huhuhuhuhu,” it laughed. It threw its toothed maw open as wide as it would go. “Hashashashasha! HAH SHAH SHAH SHAH SHAH SHAH SHAH!”
A hearty laugh to signify its victory through sheer perseverance. Freedom was truly tasty.
“Uuuu… What’s it up to now?”
Hearing the oddly cheerful noises her cellmate was making, the gnome peeked out from under her covers.
Just in time to see a spider-legged chest that had broken completely free from its restraints.
She stared at it blankly like a deer in headlight. The monster opened its jaws to reveal two rows of jagged, mismatched metal teeth, which promptly bit into the roof of her cage.
“No… NO!” she yelled. “Stay away! Please!”
The monster ignored her screams as it chewed its way through her wrought iron cage. They groaned and creaked and cracked, but were no match for the monster’s Metal Mimicry reinforced jaws. The metal rods were mercilessly torn and ripped out. Once it had made a wide enough hole, it reached its tentacles inside the cage and coiled them around the struggling gnome.
“Nooo! *Sob* Don’t hurt me! Please don’t eat me!”
Continuing to ignore her pleas for mercy, it unceremoniously put her in its mouth and closed its jaws around her.
Now that she had been taken care of, it moved towards the next obstacle in its path - the metal double doors in the back of the container. Not that it proved to be much of a challenge. It simply sprayed the area around the lock with acid until it gave way about 30 seconds later. They swung open and dangled erratically due to the speed the griffin was flying at.
Boxxy stood and stared at the view before it with its frontal eye. The sky was clear without a single cloud, providing an unobstructed view of the heavens. The griffin’s feather-tipped tail swung about slightly with the beast’s every motion and its golden-furred rump obstructed the view of the ground directly underneath, but the dark ground was still visible off in the distance. This exquisite scenery made a profound impact on the Mimic.
It reminded it that it was actually in mid-air. A detail that seemed to have temporarily escaped Boxxy’s mind.
That was hardly a problem, though.
The Mimic focused all the biomass it had remaining and sent it towards its rear. Two wide bat-like wings grew out steadily. Yet another body part it had learned from its delicious Snack. It took a bit of time to gather its courage and then took a running leap off the container and into the night while unfurling its borrowed demonic wings.
Then fell like a rock.
It was currently a little heavier than it usually was, so it took a while for it to properly even out into a glide. Full-blown flight was out of the question since the wingspan-to-weight ratio wasn’t very good, so controlling and adjusting its descent was all it could do. Of course, it had already played around with the idea before and had fallen and hurt itself plenty of times before it gave up on soaring through the sky under its own power.
The two gryphons continued on their way at ludicrous speeds. Looks like its escape had gone unnoticed, which was good. It had to wait until the sun was out before attempting this in order to maximize its chances, otherwise they might have noticed its slow descent. Granted, it didn’t believe that simple darkness would be enough to completely hide it from those people, but it was better than doing this in the middle of the day. There was also the vague hope that some or all of them would sleep. Whether that was indeed the case or not, one thing remained clear.
The Mimic was now free.
Its escape would probably go unnoticed until those people reached their destination. If it was lucky, they would think it died on impact with the ground. If not, they’d probably organize a hunt for it. However, they would have no idea exactly when and where this breakout occur. There would simply be way too much ground to cover, and the monster would not simply stand still and wait to be found.
Not that Boxxy could actually piece any of this together. If it was a few days ago, it might have come to these reassuring conclusions on its own, but right now it was preoccupied with not falling to its death.
After what felt like an eternity, the Mimic finally landed somewhere in the Sawblade Mountains. The sparsely forested area it touched down in was on a rather steep slope. It withdrew its wings and carefully surveyed its surroundings. Once it made sure nothing was coming after it, it finally relaxed a little.
Only a little, though. It had no idea where it was, what monsters lurked around or whether it could even find food. Complacency had gotten the better of it for once again and cost it dearly. The first time this happened, it very nearly died to a Fleshmaiden. This second time it again narrowly escaped death, but had two of its Jobs forcibly removed, causing it to lose a huge chunk of its combat strength.
At least it held the key to recovering one of them.
It opened its maw and spat out something small, pink-haired and unconscious. It would appear the drool-covered Fizzy had fainted from terror at the prospect of being eaten. After all, she was surrounded by teeth and a fleshy tongue wrapped firmly around her to keep her from resisting. Contact with her shackles slightly drained away at the Mimic’s mana, but it wasn’t enough to keep it from escaping with her.
As for the reasons it saved her, it had two. The obvious one was that it wanted its Artificer Job back. The second one was that it needed someone around to teach it things. Now that Snack was gone and Carl was unreachable, it had nobody around to guide it through civilized society. Granted, it didn’t quite trust this gnome, but it was the best source of information it could dig up on short notice. If it wasn’t for her valuable input concerning those mana-draining shackles, it might not have managed to escape like it did.
Oh, that’s right.
It reached down with its trio of tongue-tentacles and started fiddling with the locks on the shackles. The monster’s mind still held some memories from Fizzy’s Artificer lessons, not to mention it could clearly grasp its tumblers through its magical perception. It didn’t take long for it to pick the lock on them.
Proficiency level increased. Lockpick is now Level 1. DEX +3. PER +1.
The gnome’s shackles slid off her hands and feet and fell to the ground with a small rattling noise, which caused her to stir.
“Uuugh…” she groaned. “Hnn? Waaaah!”
She suddenly sat up screaming, throwing her eyes as wide open as they could go. In front of her was a dark, creepy pinewood forest. Above her was the clear night sky. She was sitting on a steep and oddly muddy slope. To her left was a wooden chest. To her right-
She crawled backwards away from it, brought face to face with the monster that tried to eat her.
“Haah, haah, haah,” she panted. “You… didn’t eat me? We’re outside?! And my cuffs are- You freed me?!”
A pale-skinned head appeared in an instant.
“Why?! How?! What?!”
“Art fisher. Teach.”
Right. It wanted something from her. What other reason could it possibly have for letting her live?
“And … Will you eat me after I teach you?”
“Also, good teacher. Smart. Liar and betrayer, but good teacher. Therefore - teach, and will not eat.”
It would seem that her life was not in danger. That is, not until her usefulness ran out.”
“Wh-what about after I’m done teaching you all I can? You’ll kill and eat me then, right?”
“You… what? You?! Need me?!”
“For stuff. And things.”
“And you’re willing to trust me? After all I did to you?”
“No trust. You liar and betrayer. But machines don’t lie. They’re tasty. Not like you.”
She stared dumbly at that pale head that bore a stupid, loopy smile. ‘Machines don’t lie.’ The wording was a bit different, but that phrase was originally the same one her father liked to say. The same one she passed onto her student.
Machines have no sin.
“Alright. I’ll teach you.”
No matter how much she debated the matter, what choice did she really have? She would either be useful or get eaten. That was her world right now.
“Good,” said Boxxy with an even wider smile.
A sharp, loud noise repeated itself slowly for a total of three times. It seemed to pour in from all sides at once.
“Well done! Good show!”
In the next instant, Fizzy and Boxxy both found themselves seated next to each other at a large square dining table rather than on the forest floor. The table had dozens of plates with all manner of things, although none of those seemed to be food. A tiny stone bridge, a human kidney, a small leather bag, a hammer, a guitar, a legless fox and a small stone key, to name a few of the random objects gathered. The scenery beyond the table was a huge white space that seemed to go on forever.
And sitting opposite them was a tanned, dandy-looking old man.
“Forgive the sudden intrusion,” he said with a voice that did not match his apparent age, “but I simply had to congratulate you. That escape was a truly marvelous performance.”
“What?” blurted out Fizzy.
She then blinked in surprise, only to realize the man sitting at the table was now a purple goat with a tophat.
She blinked again, this time the goat turned into a floating kettle. Next time she blinked her eyes it was a lizardman with dark glasses and a mohawk. She blinked once more only to see a green-skinned woman in an evening gown and no face.
The thing in front of her took a different shape every time her eyelids covered her sight for a tiny instant. She looked towards Boxxy, who seemed to have retreated its head and was currently chesting with all its might.
“I think I’ve finally gone nuts,” stated Fizzy with an incredulous tone.
“Nah, you’re probably fine,” said the breakdancing gecko. “It’s just that you mortals have difficulty perceiving me. Even the other gods have difficulty maintaining eye contact sometimes.”
“Mortals? Other gods?”
“Oh, right!” exclaimed the inside-out sock. “I believe introductions are in order.”
The bare-bones skeleton then stood up and took off its wings as if they were a book.
“My name is Bob, the God of Chaos.”
The inside-out elephant then sat back down on its nails and let a fish float onto his foot.
“And I have called you two here to make you an offer you will most likely not refuse.”