Fizzy lifted the slim hammer in her right hand above her head while her left held a piece of red-hot metal firmly in place with her fingers. She positioned it carefully against the pitch black anvil underneath and, for lack of a better term, took aim. The golem steadied her feet, sharpened her focus and swung her tool down while doing her best to use just the right amount of force.
Metal clashed against metal, sending a deluge of sparks in every direction. They bounced harmlessly off of her impeccable mithril hide before spilling onto the floor and disappearing. The rectangular plate that had been struck deformed unnaturally as the hammer strike sent ripples through it. Its wider sides arched upwards seemingly all on their own, causing the half-molten shard to adopt a smooth quarter-pipe shape.
Fizzy carefully lifted it up and inspected it thoroughly with her eyes, then held it up to her side so her teacher could do the same.
“I think you used too much force again,” the man said while adjusting his spectacles. “Better quench it for forty seconds, just in case.”
Fizzy nodded and lowered the metal fragment into the reddish murky fluid of a nearby metal vat. The liquid sizzled, bubbled and even slightly caught fire as it tried desperately to soothe the metal’s heat. After precisely forty seconds, the amateur Blacksmith lifted the newly-forged component out of the liquid. The mithril shard’s red glow had all but disappeared, leaving behind a pure white radiant glimmer that gave off copious amounts of steam. At least until the liquid clinging to it completely evaporated, at which point it heated right back up again with the same intense red light as before.
“Yeah see here - it’s warped slightly. The surface is all uneven and wavy.”
The one pointing out said flaw with a metal stick was a man called Malcolm Gero, a human artisan living in the Horkensaft Kingdom’s capital of Gun Tarum. He was a Blacksmith, Enchanter, and the man responsible for fixing Fizzy’s left arm after the previous Hero of the Hammer broke it off. As for his appearance, he had short, scruffy chestnut-colored hair and bright yellow eyes hidden behind round spectacles. He looked more or less the same way he did back when the golem first met him, especially the way his face made it seem like he hadn’t slept in days. His clothing consisted of old wool work clothes primarily brown and dark green in color, which covered every part of him aside from his head.
“Damn, I could’ve sworn I did it right this time,” Fizzy grumbled.
“Oh no, you definitely did it right,” the man reassured her. “Just because it has a minor flaw doesn’t mean it’s no good.”
Pure mithril was a quirky material that seemed to act of its own volition during the forging process, so tiny defects like a bit of warping were only to be expected.
“Yes it does. It has to be perfect.”
However, Malcolm mostly used his craft to make weapons, armor, and the occasional golem patch-job, so he could be forgiven for not understanding Fizzy’s need for precision. An Artificer’s craft was a delicate and accurate one, so even the tiniest flaw could prove disastrous. Especially for Arclight Artificers, whose creations were more prone to breaking down or backfiring than the Automata or Flamespitter specializations of the Job.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Malcolm said with a soft smile. “Frankly speaking the fact you can already handle pure mithril to this degree is incredible. Most apprentice Blacksmiths need at least five or six years before they’re skilled enough to even think about working with the stuff, yet you made it this far in just over a month.”
“To be fair I’m no stranger to working the forge. Been relying on Component Forging ever since I could swing a hammer, but it’s no longer enough to make the custom parts I need.”
Just because one didn’t have the Blacksmith Job didn’t stop them from hitting heated lumps of metal with a hammer. However, it was a necessary thing if one hoped to keep up with the demands of high-Level adventuring and/or artisan endeavors. Blacksmiths, Enchanters, Alchemists and Artificers all needed one another in varying degrees to further their craft. The only truly ‘independent’ artisan-type Job was Gatherer, though they were more focused on procuring raw materials rather than shaping them into something new.
Bottom line was that Fizzy was at a stage in her Arclight Artificer career that she deemed it impossible to make meaningful progress without becoming a Blacksmith. Something she’d been meaning to do ever since her rebirth, but it wasn’t until after Edward was a blood smear on the floor that she got the opportunity to devote herself fully to her craft. Her other Jobs may have stagnated a bit since she wasn’t fighting as much, but she had still become a Level 23 Blacksmith in record time.
Normally she would need to reach Level 40 and obtain the Magical Metallurgy Skill before handling mithril, but Fizzy was no ordinary artisan. As a metal golem, she could ‘talk’ to the material in her hands with Metallopathy, allowing her to ‘negotiate’ with mithril without having that particular Skill. She could technically use Geomagnetic Grip to forcefully bend the metal into a certain shape instead, but the result was neither precise nor sturdy enough for her needs. High-Level Artificer inventions demanded parts of a suitably high quality, which in turn required rare and expensive materials be handled with careful and experienced hands.
And now that she had chosen to become a Blacksmith, Fizzy was able to handle assembling her gadgets and inventions from a much earlier stage. The Equipment Maintenance and Leathercraft Skill she got from her new Job were not all that useful in that regard, but Forge Control and Basic Metallurgy were another story. She could now smelt ingots by herself or make her own non-magical alloys instead of relying on someone else to get things just right. The Job also had the side-effect of providing her with a bunch of STR and END, which were greatly appreciated. Though seemingly minor in quantity, these additional Attributes were nevertheless quite potent when applied to the body of a mithril dynamo golem.
“Heh. To be honest, I can’t help but feel a bit envious of you,” Malcolm admitted while scratching his cheek. “I’m just glad you’re not delving into the smithing business for real. Otherwise not only me but even the dwarven smiths in town would be out of a job.”
“It’s only natural to feel inferior,” Fizzy replied. “I’ll admit you’re skilled, but there’s no way a meatbag like you could compete with someone as insanely talented and stunningly shiny as me.”
“Uh, Fizzy? I’m pretty sure he was looking for sympathy,” Plus butted in. “I mean look at him, I think he’s about to rip his hair out in frustration. Or cry. Possibly both.”
“That’s his own fault for being weak-willed and feeble-bodied,” Minus argued. “Besides, it’s not like Fizzy said anything untrue.”
“Would you two keep it down? I’m trying to focus here!”
The Parallel entities went quiet, allowing the dynamo golem to concentrate on the task at hand. She raised her special hammer in the air and began gauging where to strike the heated mithril plate between her fingers so that it would bend the way she wanted.
*BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG*
Unfortunately she didn’t get to make that swing before a loud banging on the metal door behind her ruined her concentration. She lowered her tool and looked towards Malcolm, who was adjusting his glasses with a displeased look on his face.
“How rude!” he exclaimed as he walked towards the door. “Don’t they see the ‘Occupied’ sign outside?”
Though the human had a forge at his workshop, it was not hot enough work with mithril. That was why he and his pupil came here, to this communal foundry. He had to pay to make use of one of the facility’s advanced forge-rooms, but so did everyone else, and none of them liked being disturbed. It was only common courtesy not to bother a smith that was trying to focus on their craft, so Malcolm was quite justified in being ticked off at this insistent visitor.
The man unlocked the door and pulled it open just enough to show his face through the gap. On the other side was a well-dressed gnomish woman with pink hair tied up in a bun and a folder of some kind in her hands. She had four dwarves with her, all of them wearing thick-looking armor and mean-looking expressions. They did an excellent job of deflating Malcolm’s ire, turning him from pissed off to apologetic in an instant.
“Yes? Can I help you?”
“Good day, sir,” the gnome said politely. “Forgive the intrusion, but I was told this was where I could find one Fizzy Rustblood.”
The man heard a bunch of clicking and buzzing noises from behind, but he didn’t want to appear rude to these fine gentlemen with the large beards and larger axes by turning his gaze away.
“Is there such an individual here?"
“And if there is?”
“Then I would very much like to speak with them.”
“Uhm, one moment.”
Malcolm looked over his shoulder to call the gnome-looking construct over, but his words got stuck in his throat. Barely a moment later the door was opened inwards all the way by some unseen force, knocking him to the side. The four dwarven bodyguards went on high alert at the sight of the slightly irate, heavily armored and highly charged mithril golem on the other side. They stood their ground and clenched their weapons, ready to react should the construct make any suspicious moves.
“What is it, meatbag?” Fizzy said coldly, her metallic voice grating against the ear. “And it better be important.”
“… Err… Ahem! G-greetings, miss Rustblood,” the other woman replied after recomposing herself. “I have an urgent summons for you.”
She held out a beige envelope stamped with some sort of F-shaped seal. Fizzy stepped forward and snagged it out of her hand then immediately ripped it open. She only needed to look over the documents within for only a few moments before she realized what this was about.
“I’m being sued for patent infringement?!”
Sparks flew out of her circular head ornaments to accompany that shriek of disbelief.
“Quite so. The Weavertron Five Thousand™ schematic you submitted to the Department of Patent Regulation in relation to patent number 624-C was found to use technology belonging to my client. As a direct result-”
Fizzy’s right wrist opened up and her arm cannon popped out of her forearm, allowing it to be aimed squarely at the gnomish woman’s head.
“I will only tell you once. Leave.”
“Come now, there is no reason we can’t be civilized.”
Bolts of lightning began to dance across Fizzy’s chassis and leaped between the two large round coils attached to her head.
She then began counting.
“Ma’am?!” one of the dwarves asked, clearly waiting for direction. “What do we do?”
“Now see here you ruffian! I will not be-”
A blue bolt of pseudo-plasma shot out of Fizzy’s arm and flew right past the other party’s head, singing her pink hair bun, silencing her complaints, and melting a hole through the wall in the back.
The stubborn woman finally got the message and practically ran out screaming ‘You’ll pay for this, you psycho!’ with her entourage in close pursuit. Satisfied with that outcome, Fizzy put away the weapon and closed the door. As for Malcolm, he just sort of stared at the whole thing happen with a bewildered face after he had been knocked down on his ass. It took him a few moments before he realized the sudden ordeal was all over and that it was probably safe to speak up.
“Well, I suppose that’s one way to get rid of a lawyer,” he said while rising to his feet.
“Yeah. There’s a much better way though,” Fizzy replied absentmindedly.
“Oh? What’s that?”
“Ah. Ahah. Hah. Hmm.”
The human forced a laugh at what he presumed to be a bad joke, but his mechanized pupil’s unflinching expression suggested she was completely serious.
“Mind if I ask what’s all this about, then?” he asked, gesturing at the heavy-duty golem’s general direction.
“Where did all that armor come from?”
“Oh right, you’ve never seen me like this. Gimme two seconds.”
Fizzy put the documents she was mulling over on the nearby table and assumed a neutral standing position. Her body was enveloped by a web of electrical arcs, followed by her armor splitting apart like a puzzle. It folded in and rearranged itself, causing the golem to rapidly shrink in size. A few moments later a second flash of lightning ran down her frame, sealing the vast majority of gaps and seams between her new ‘skin’ to form large plates of smooth, shiny mithril.
The golem now had an appearance less like an armored juggernaut and more like a person wearing a mithril suit. She was still obviously mechanical in nature though, as the gaps between her metal plates and around her joints showed hints of her inner workings. Her massive shoulder pads were gone, her shield had shrunk to a bracelet-like accessory on her left arm and her bulky limbs now had a much more slender and elegant shape. As did her body as a whole, which had adopted distinctly more feminine curves, complete with a modest bust-shaped chestplate, narrow waist and wide hips. Her face was much the same, though her helmet was lighter and more elegant. The pair of orbs attached to her cranium were now shaped like twin-tails with two horizontal heat vents each.
As for where all that extra material she ‘took off’ went, even Fizzy herself wasn’t entirely sure. All she knew was that her internals deposited it somewhere inside her golem core. Whether that meant it was being deposited in some Storage-like space or it was being subjected to some weird metal-magic was unknown. The ‘organ’ that served as both Fizzy’s heart and brain was so far beyond the golem’s comprehension that she had completely given up on trying to decipher its mysteries.
“Better?” she asked with a 60,000 GP smile.
“Ah. Yes. Much. I’m sorry, no, but what? Since when can you do that sort of thing?!”
“It’s just a golem Skill, don’t worry about it.”
More specifically, it was the ability that Fizzy originally wanted at Level 10 War Golem, but her circumstances at the time made her pass it over in favor for the Lightning Warp Skill.
Physical Augmentation Module
Description: The golem willfully alters its own construction, amplifying certain aspects of it at the expense of others.
Requirements: Level 10 War Golem, Level 25 Artificer
Activation Time: 2 seconds
Cost: 300 MP
Effects: Permanently transforms the user into a different form upon activation.
Grants access to a new transformation at Level 1, 4, 7 and 10 of this Skill.
That was well over half a year ago though, before her participation in the Gilded Hand subjugation pushed her past Level 15 of the Job. Since then she had been using it regularly, allowing her to raise it up to Level 7 and unlock three additional transformation on top of her original ‘Skirmisher Mode.’ The one she was using right now was Service Mode, a lighter, nimbler and more compact version of herself. She could still fight in it, but that was ill-advised since her physical strength was lower, her armor thinner, and certain Skills - like her Magitech Cannon - could not be used.
That was fine though, because this form was clearly intended for crafting purposes. Lighter limbs equaled more precise movements and a wider range of motion since they no longer had to deal with all that bulky armor. Her wrists could even spin around a full three hundred and sixty degrees without any problems. Her eyes, on the other hand, had a built in magnification function, allowing her to get an even better look at what she was working on. There were special Artificer-made goggles and lenses that could do the same of course, but having them built-in was quite convenient. Not to mention ‘pretty freaking cool’ according to Plus.
The second transformation, which she attained at Level 4 of the Skill, was something called Charger Mode. As the name implied, it was a form that excelled at running into things at high speed and turning them into red mist, though its freakishly large arms and fists were rather slow and difficult to control. The Level 7 one was the aptly named Fortress Mode, which somewhat limited her mobility but made her armor much thicker. It also enhanced her Static Field Skill, allowing it to project a defensive barrier around the golem and any nearby allies if she poured enough MP into it.
Fizzy didn’t know what to expect from the final form, nor when she would get around to obtaining it, but she was definitely looking forward to it.
“Don’t worry about it, she says,” Malcolm mumbled to himself as he rubbed his head. “So what if I’m a golem maker, you know? Why would I care if the highly advanced pure mithril construct that arrived on my doorstep can also transform and has electrical powers? It’s not like it concerns my life’s work or my area of expertise or anything.”
The man’s disbelief was rather understandable considering this was the first time he’d seen anything other than Service Fizzy. He understood she had Ranked Up since their last meeting and had just assumed that that was what she looked like now. And why wouldn’t he? Machines that transformed to that absurd a degree were the stuff of outlandish fiction and needlessly complicated children’s toys.
It wasn’t like Fizzy was trying to deceive him specifically though. The only time she left Service Mode these days was when violence was afoot, otherwise she didn’t bother. The lightweight form was not only easier to move around in, but it also made her seem less like a monster and more like a person. Both of those were vital when trying to fit in with meatbag society in order to take advantage of the goods and services on offer. Incidentally, whenever she asked Boxxy which was its favorite configuration, it said it liked them all because they were all Fizzy. She really didn’t know what to make of that statement, so she merely chalked it up to ‘shapeshifter sensibilities’ and took it as a compliment.
“Anyway, I’m going to have to cut today’s session short,” Fizzy stated as she packed up her tools and materials. “I really need to go deal with this patent infringement thing.”
“… Patent infringement?” the man repeated. “Wait, you’re getting sued for that?!”
Generally speaking patents were something only Artificers had to worry about, but Malcolm had lived in Gun Tarum long enough to know what they were about.
“There has to be some mistake,” he continued. “I mean, I honestly can’t see someone as serious about her craft as you resort to stealing other people’s ideas.”
“Oh, I didn’t. And it’s no mistake. They’re trying to claim my work as their own, the bastards.”
“Who is ‘they?’”
Malcolm took this revelation surprisingly well. Frankly speaking, being told that one of the most influential families in Gun Tarum was up to no good was the least surprising thing he’d been through all day.
“I see. Well, good luck with that.”
“I don’t need luck. I have a Goddess of Gambling on my side!”
Fizzy put on the backpack containing her stuff and left the forge, leaving Malcolm to deal with the repair bill for the hole she made with her warning shot earlier. She would pay him back later, but right now she needed to move fast. As expected of her father’s former clan, the Fizzlesprockets did not waste time and had set the date for the hearing in a mere three days. The case they were trying to make was that since the Demon Silk weaving machine Fizzy made could not function without their ‘exclusive power distribution circuits’ then they were entitled to partial ownership of the patent.
Something the golem was not going to let them just have. That was her creation, damn it. The only reason she submitted a patent for it was so the Artificer community would know of her genius, yet those leeches were trying lay claim to it as if it were their own. It was nothing new though. Fizzy had heard plenty of stories where one of ‘the big three’ used their influence and power to pressure independent tinkerers into submission, all for the sake of making a profit off of their work.
That abrupt three-day deadline in particular was a part of how they normally did things. Giving the other side as little time as possible to prepare for a trial was a dick move, but it was an effective one. After all, a case that had been cobbled together over a few days would surely seem flaky when placed against one that had been in the making for weeks, possibly months. The Fizzlesprockets probably would’ve waited until only minutes before the trial before serving Fizzy those papers, but that would go against the very laws they were trying to abuse.
One thing was clear though - no matter how much prep work that pink-haired snake had put into this, she and her ‘client’ clearly had no idea who it was they were messing with.
When the day of the hearing came, both parties gathered inside the Municipal Tribunal building. It was a place for settling civil disputes such as patent infringement and though it did have seats for witnesses and observers, it was usually mostly empty. This was not the case this time around though, as the tiered benches inside the auditorium were nearly filled to capacity. Roughly two hundred people had gathered on the ‘stands’ and were buzzing with anticipation as if this was some form of entertainment.
This clearly did not please the Fizzlesprocket representative - the same woman who delivered the subpoena. Her pink-haired bun still hadn’t recovered from Fizzy’s ‘warning shot’ so she was forced to style it in a pixie cut. To her right was the raised podium where the judge presiding over this case would sit once the proceedings got underway. To her left was another long desk identical to the one she was at, where the defendant and her legal council were seated. These three pieces of stone-hewn furniture were arranged in an equilateral triangle and all faced towards the center where a circular stand for witnesses was located.
The trial got underway when the judge, a dwarf named Agok Evenward, arrived and took his seat. The gnome representing the influential clan introduced herself as Lumi Fizzlesprocket and presented her side’s case. They claimed that Fizzy had created a new invention with the intent to earn money off of it either by selling it as-is or through its operation, otherwise she wouldn’t have gotten a patent for it. And they weren’t entirely wrong, as Boxxy was going to make a killing off of the Weavertron Five Thousand™ so this was a point the defense couldn’t argue against.
The problem was that said machine relied heavily on Fizzlesprocket proprietary technology for the power source. This meant the gnomes were entitled to joint ownership of the patent. This would allow them to legally mass-produce and sell the machine, and would entitle the gnomish clan to some sort of monetary compensation for ‘damages.’ That was probably not their real goal, though. It was far more likely they just wanted to obtain the rights to use Fizzy’s original designs and ideas that were part of the schematic to further their own projects.
Well, that and controlling the flow of technology and information, which the Fizzlesprocket household had determined will be of vital importance in the decades and centuries to come. Fizzy was not keen to let them have their way of course, so she sent out her legal counsel to carry out her defense. The man in question was an elf from the Ishigar Republic embassy named Hamon Farkian, who was representing a citizen of his home nation. The blue-haired elf in the sharp suit knew his way around the Horkensaft Kingdom’s laws, so he and the golem already had a pretty solid plan of action.
Hamon put forward that yes, the power source his client used was based on a similar principle to the one owned by the plaintiff. Engraving a special conductive fluid into metal plating to produce power amplifying circuits was something of a staple of Fizzlesprocket-made contraptions. However, the initial concept was owned by Ekaterina Dragunova, the Original Artificer, and was therefore believed to be public domain since the person herself was deceased with no heirs. Henceforth, any technology developed with that idea at its core was ‘fair game.’ And since Fizzy’s version used a completely different carving pattern and alchemical solution it should be considered different enough to be its own separate design.
Lumi immediately countered this argument by saying that was not the case and called forth an expert from the Department of Patent Regulation to take the stand. The witness claimed they found the component schematics submitted to them by Fizzy Rustblood to be a derivative work of Fizzlesprocket-owned intellectual property. The patent in question, bearing the serial number 506-D, was one the influential family had acquired fairly recently. In other words, the design the defense was infringing upon was not the one the Fizzlesprockets had held for the last hundred years or so. And since the defendant did not own the rights to use said intellectual property, nor its ‘predecessor,’ then the Fizzlesprockets were justified in seeking their due. Namely a hefty fine and shared ownership of Fizzy’s new patent.
Next up it was the defense’s turn to question the witness. Fizzy’s attorney asked the DPR official about the ‘illegally appropriated technology’ more in depth. It became evident that the design in question was one submitted to the Department through a courier by a gnomish Artificer in the Lodrak Empire. The man in question was one Rory Fizzlesprocket. He had submitted it as an independent entity since he had been disowned and exiled by the head family, and it was indeed approved by the DPR. However, since the man and all his descendants were presumed dead, the Fizzlesprocket household was able to claim ownership of the ‘orphaned’ design.
Something that they have been trying to do for about two months and was only made official six days ago.
Fizzy let out a breathless, tired sigh. She had a feeling it would come to this, and though she was loathe to do it, she saw no other options. She signaled her representative to bring out ‘the big guns,’ prompting him to reveal that his client was actually Cornie Fizzlesprocket, the rightful heir of said patent. This caused the crowd to get quite noisy and forced the judge to demand silence by slamming his gavel against the wooden plate on his desk. Something he always wanted to do but never got the chance since patent laws were normally boring and uninteresting, but today was an exception.
The Rustblood Juggernaut always attracted a crowd wherever she went, and she never failed to get them heated up.
Having restored order, the judge directed the elven attorney to present evidence of his claim. Which he did, and copious amounts of it at that. Strictly speaking, it was inevitable that Fizzy’s meatbag lineage and/or origins would one day be put into question considering it was an outlandish tale. That was why she had all the necessary paperwork to prove who she used to be beyond the shadow of a doubt prepared months ago, with a little help from Keira’s FIB friends. And since the Horkensaft Kingdom placed great importance on one’s lineage, it was only natural she’d have them close at hand to corroborate her backstory. She even backed it up herself while under Teresa’s Oath. The tribunal’s Scribes confirmed there was no change in her FTH Attribute before and after her testimony, meaning that she was indeed telling the truth about her origins.
Admittedly not the whole truth, but more than enough of it to prove her point.
Faced with such overwhelming evidence, the court had no choice but to accept that Fizzy was the descendant of Rory Fizzlesprocket. Extremely unlikely circumstances aside, the law was quite clear. The patent belonged to her, so the Fizzlesprockets’ claims were flawed from the start. The elven attorney named Hamon even bit back, demanding the plaintiffs be stripped of their ownership of her father’s patent, as it was appropriated using false or incomplete information.
The prosecutor did not skip a beat at this development, however. She immediately consented that the defense was right and that Fizzy owned all the rights to patents 624-C and 506-D both. She then moved on to point out that the defendant herself had testified that she had been renamed by a Scribe after her permanent transformation into a metal construct. Meaning that she was a golem that once bore the Fizzlesprocket name before it was illegally removed.
In other words, Lumi was claiming that Fizzy was actually an ‘item’ that rightfully belonged to the Fizzlesprocket household, along with any and all ‘possessions’ she was carrying.
It was at this point that the trial turned into what was essentially a mudslinging match. Questions regarding traditions, laws, technicalities, ethics and all sorts of other gray areas were thrown about. Even Fizzy’s involvement with the Vault Beneath the Mountain and her part in reconnecting the dwarves with their ancestral underground kingdom was brought into this. It was at a point three hours into the trial when the radiant Paladin’s faith and acquaintances were being discussed that she had finally decided to take matters into her own hands.
“Objection, Your Honor!”
The debate came to a screeching halt upon Fizzy raising her hand and shouting loudly. Her lawyer looked at her with a face of ‘What the fuck are you doing?!’ but she paid him no mind. To his credit, mister Hamon Farkian was very good at his job, but his opponent was a gnome with a natural talent for burying solid arguments under inane legal-sounding drivel and technobabble. It was unfortunate, but it would appear he was unable to ‘seal the deal’ as it were, and Fizzy had better things to do than entertain this farce.
“And what is it you might be objecting to, miss Rustblood?”
The judge replied in a voice that was surprisingly level and calm considering the headache he was getting from those two snakes hissing at each other.
“To this ridiculous debate. See, from what I understand the trial hinges on whether the court decides that I’m legally an item or a person. And the reason Your Honor cannot decide is because this tribunal has never seen a case like mine.”
“Indeed, that is more or less where we are at, miss Rustblood.”
That was the core of the dwarven judge’s problem. There was no judicial precedent, meaning that it was highly likely this case would create one. Whether he ruled in favor of Rustblood or Fizzlesprocket, his decision would surely shape future laws and trials that involved enlightened minds trapped within monsters’ bodies. Knowing the judicial system as well as he did, he could easily see this seemingly inconsequential patent infringement lawsuit being used as an example in both civil and criminal law disputes.
Some might say he was merely overthinking things, but the judge nevertheless refused to pass a verdict until he was one hundred percent sure of his answer.
“Then I wish the court to consider the following question.”
The golem rose from her seat and stood up on top of the stone desk in front of her. She activated her Physical Augmentation Module, causing the slender frame of her Service Mode to rapidly swell in size, mass, and height as it gave way to Skirmisher Mode. Once the transformation was done she was so heavy that the solid stone piece of furniture she was standing on seemed to crack and buckle.
“If this ‘item’ decides to slaughter every last meatbag in this room, then who is going to be responsible for its actions?”
She then stomped down with her right leg, breaking the desk underneath her feet and reducing it to a pile of rubble with a loud crash. This naturally caused a bout of panicked screaming and guards were no doubt on their way to subdue the disturbance, but she just smiled brightly at the dwarven judge and pair of lawyers in front of her.
“Hypothetically speaking, of course,” the golem added.
She then switched back to her previous configuration, sat back down in her seat and crossed her legs as if nothing had happened. Armed men and women of various races and vocations began pouring into the courtroom, but the judge was quick to tell them to stand down, keep watch, and be quiet. He then turned towards the pale-faced gnomish prosecutor, who had run off to hide behind her own desk during the commotion.
“Well, Ms Fizzlesprocket? Any further objections as to miss Rustblood’s claims to full and sole ownership of patents number 624-C and 506-D?”
The pink-haired woman’s head shook frantically since her words were stuck in her throat. She hid it well, but having her head nearly melted off had been a profoundly jarring experience. That, combined with Fizzy’s ‘hypothetical’ threat was more than enough to convince her that some things were more important than some stupid patent or two. Like her head. Or her pulse. Not to mention her ongoing existence. Also her breathing, she liked that as well.
“Very good,” the judge nodded. “In that case I declare miss Rustblood the sole rightful owner of patents number 624-C, 506-D, as well as any other intellectual property submitted to the DPR by Rory Fizzlesprocket following his relocation to the Lodrak Empire. The plaintiff is also hereby sentenced to hand over any schematics, prototypes and/or inventions based on any such patents to Fizzy Rustblood. Failure to do so within ten business days will result in a 3,000 GP fine with another 1,000 for every five additional days of noncompliance.”
Fizzy raised her hands in the air as if she’d just won a round in the local coliseum’s monster fighting circuit, but the dwarven judge wasn’t quite finished with her yet.
“As for you, miss Rustblood. While I can respect your… passion… I am significantly less appreciative of your destruction of Tribunal property. I hereby find you guilty of contempt of court, and sentence you pay a fine of 2,500 GP on top of any property damage inflicted. Failure to do so within ten business days will result in your being imprisoned for a duration of sixty days. Court is now adjourned.”
*BANG BANG BANG*
The judge slammed his gavel three times to signify the end of the trial. Fizzy was significantly less elated after being put on the spot like that, but she nevertheless left the courtroom with her head held high and her elven attorney following closely behind.
“Are you nuts?!” the man asked in a hushed voice.
“No, I’m Fizzy.”
“I’m serious! You’re lucky he let you off with just a fine! Do you have any idea how close you came to being branded an enemy of the state?!”
“Fairly, yeah. However, I’d much rather be labeled a monster or a criminal than be considered someone’s thing.”
“Let me guess - not unless it’s Boxxy, right?” Minus sneered.
“Well, at least it knows to treat us with the respect, adoration and attention we deserve,” Plus chimed in.
“You’ll be singing a different tune once it finds out the bill we just racked up. It’s gonna be pissed.”
“Frankly speaking,” Fizzy continued, “that ridiculous little pink meatbag should be thankful I didn’t ram her head down her throat for all those disingenuous assertions, snide insinuations, and derogatory terms she was swinging about.”
“You know that prideful attitude of yours just made you a very powerful enemy, right?” the elven lawyer retorted.
“I don’t give a rusty damn how high and mighty they think they are. If they try to come after me or my work again after today, then whatever happens to them will be on their own heads.”
True, the Fizzlesprockets may have had friends in high places, but none of them were out of reach when it came to Fizzy’s own acquaintances. In fact, the golem had to practically nag Boxxy into letting her handle this her own way, otherwise it was liable to take things into its own hands. Tentacles. Whatever. Point was she couldn’t care less if that clan mysteriously disappeared from the face of the planet, but she wouldn’t be able to accomplish one of her personal goals if she did that. Which was to show them and the rest of the world that she, as a single golem, was superior to all of the Fizzlesprocket household combined.
“Haaaaah… I guess I should just stop complaining and be happy we won,” the lawyer said with a sigh.
“Yes, you should.”
“I just have one more niggle, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“Asking is free, I suppose.”
“Did you absolutely have to break that table?”
“Of course I did.”
“How’d you figure? And please don’t tell me it was because ‘the muffin man inside your head told you so’ like last time.”
“Well. You see, mister Farkian, once you’ve been tossed about by the whimsical flows of chaos as much as I have, you begin to realize something. A sort of hidden nugget of truth about this world that all of Rick’s faithful uncover sooner or later.”
“Oh? And what’s that?”
“There is no such thing as a problem that cannot be solved with the right application of force.”
It was the magnitude, direction and mass behind said universal solution that the golem was still having trouble determining, but she’d get the hang of it eventually.