It was with a sigh of relief that we left the roar of pissed off dinosaur behind us to see what lay behind door number three.
We trotted back the way we had come, passing quickly over the bridge only to stop dead in our tracks at the entrance to the huge cavernous room.
“Okay, there were two armies here just a bit ago. Anybody see where they went?”
“No, seriously, how do you lose an army? Hello?” I stepped further out into the echoing, empty chamber, and yelling louder called, “Hello!?!”
Huh. You know, if I were given to introspection, this might worry me a little. Fortunately, I can rarely stay focused on one thing long enough to start wor… “Oh hey, is that door unlocked?”
The others had moved on without me, crossing the vast room to the big door opposite the bridge. With a gentle push of the hand, Monstre sent the imposing doors to swing open, revealing a long, wide corridor lined with pipes and tubes.
At the far end of the corridor were several large sewer pipes, their uncovered openings angled upwards towards us.
Their gaping, oh so very large uncovered openings.
I muttered “Badeba ba bop doot doot doot doot” under my breath, hearing others in the group utter similar charms against pipes and evil flowers at the same time.
As we approached the pipes, several foes jumped out at us from inside them, and began to launch missiles and tracking lasers. We sprung into action, hurling arcane energies, fireballs, explosive shells and in one case a slightly rabid badger at our foes.
Then the first of our strongest, most durable teammates went down to a laser, homing robot bombs began scuttling towards us, and Chron uttered those fateful words of ancient wisdom, “Run away! Break for the door!”
I took off back the way we had come as fast as I could, the rocket exhaust leaving a plume of flame behind me. I took pleasure in leaving the last of my team in the dust. One more speed bump for my enemies to stumble across before they can get me!
For truly it is said, I do not have to be faster than my pursuer, I just have to be faster than the rest of the pursued. Verily, they are the appetizer and, if I’m lucky, can also serve as the main course.
As soon as it seemed safe, or rather as soon as our more durable companions came through the gateway to rejoin the fight, I slowed and added my assistance.
We made our stand there, in the massive chamber where not long before High-Tinker Mekkatorque and his army of gnomes had held their ground. Is this what happened to them? Were they out fought, outthought, out improvised? Did they fail to adapt and were overcome?
With Monstre and Pankration once more leading the way, with the full support of Pumpken, Callaghan and even Tom, we began to push them back and take them down, one at a time.
Then our feet got damn hot. I heard a sizzling sound, I smelled the too, too familiar scent of warlocks roasting on an open fire, and I started running around in circles, screaming “Mah biscuits is burning! Mah biscuits is burning!”
“Where the hell is it coming from? OUCH! Run! Damn it, it’s following me! Where is it? What’s doing this and make the bad man stop….”
“It’s a tracking laser from the original room near the pipes, it’s shooting up at us through the floor!”
We sped back through the door and down the corridor, our sights set on taking down our deadliest foe to date; a gnome wielding a massive shoulder-fired laser cannon that could apparently cut through a mile of steel decking with unerring accuracy.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I want one of those.
We broke her toy and she went down fighting, Arrakeen’s firmly planted axe finally silencing her snarls.
Geez, tough crowd.
Looking out past the pipes in front of us, we saw a massive, well, arena. Shit, I dunno man. It looked like an arena to me. Maybe that’s how Garrosh did all of his corporate meetings? The department heads form their employees into groups in the middle of an arena, and then they fight their way back out through deathtraps, dinosaurs, stale donuts and coffee blasters to freedom?
I dunno. I’ve heard of stupider group-building exercises. There is this one where they expect you to fall backward into someone else’s arms? You’re supposed to like, learn trust when your coworker catches you and shit. Well, what do you foster when he drops your ass? I ask you.
No, really, I’m asking you. I think Tom is gonna slash my tires. Hell, it’s not like he needed a cast or anything. Brush it off, you’re a priest, heal thyself and all that crap.
Anyway, the opposite wall was one massive machine of some kind, grinding and sparking and welding up bits. On the left side of the room, across a gap filled with pipes, a conveyor belt entered the room from to the left of where we were and headed forward, vanishing behind the massive machine. It came back out again from the right of the machine towards us and disappeared into the wall beside us.
There were pipes to the left of the room and again directly in front of us, and other than that, the arena floor was surrounded by space. How the hell were we supposed to jump across to it?
Wait. Why were we going over there?
“Wait. Why are we going over there? Is that machine loot? It ain’t fitting in my bags, I know that.”
“No, the final door leading to Garrosh is locked, and we need to get the key off of him.”
“Him? Him who?”
Chron pointed across the vast arena floor to the front of the console, where, far off in the distance I could sort of see a big, mechanical shredder-looking monster with the coolest glowing blue fist thingie ever lumbering around fiddling with the controls of the machine. I pulled out my Spyglass and zoomed in for a better look.
Why, however did I miss it hiding there.
Okay, so big bad machine dude thingie. Right. We’ve taken down the Iron Juggernaut, exactly how bad could this be? Linkages and bombs and sawblades. Whoopie.
I went back to eyeing the conveyor belt with something akin to terror in my heart. Somehow, I just knew I was going to end up running on that conveyor being pursued by tracking lasers. And monstrous chainsaw blades. I just knew it.
Chron said, “Everyone listen up. It’s obvious what we’re going to have to do here. We’re going to have to jump in this pipe in front of us, we’ll be spit out onto the platform over there. Then we attack Blackfuse and destroy him. We’ll pry the key to those doors from his still-smoking corpse.”
“That’s obvious, is it? What about the conveyor?”
“What about it?”
“You’re telling me that there is no chance at all one of us will end up on that conveyor then, are you? Is that right?”
“Oh, right. Yeah, I was reading the markings on the walls, other side of that wall to the left of us is where all the death machines go through rough first stage assembly. Then they come in here on the conveyor, go into that machine, get finished and operational, and go out the right hand side to the freight elevators.”
“You can read goblin engineering instructions and signs?”
“So someone is going to have to go up on the conveyor and destroy whatever you have time to before it comes out the other end and blows us up.”
“Why can’t we simply walk over to the rough assembly area, kill the goblin peons working in there, make sure nothing comes out to get finished?”
“Goblin Workers Union filed a grievance. The GWU says after that whole Death Star thing, all workers have an automatic exemption from mass destruction events on underground or intersteller villain lairs.”
“We could evacuate?”
“What, before it’s time to punch out? You’ve never worked with a union before, have you.”
“Fine, okay. So, why not go in there and blow the parts up? They can stay on the clock, we’ll just destroy the parts.”
“Can’t do it, subsection five says any damages to tools or equipment can result in serious penalties.”
“We are here to kill Garrosh Hellscream and destroy the heart of an Old God. What, exactly, are we afraid of as a penalty here?”
“Oh, shit, sorry, so you were saying about conveyors.”
“Bear, you’re going to be running on the conveyor with Mibs.”
They call me Bear. It must be a nickname, because my proper name is Buttflame, but since the alternatives seemed to be either Butt or Flamer, I felt I was getting the better part of the possibilities here.
Also, WTF, OVER?
“Um, I’m running with Mibs? On a conveyor. And we’re sure there will be death machines on this conveyor to destroy? This isn’t some ploy to get rid of by sending me on a conveyor to be sliced up by tracking lasers, is it?”
“No, no, no. No, you’ll be perfectly fine, Mibs is an absolute expert and will carefully and safely guide you through whatever you may face together. Trust him, he’s a professional, and the best damn Warlock on the server. I mean in the world.”
I looked over at Summibs. He grinned, waved, and flexed his muscles at me. His red loincloth fluttered a little, and I felt a bit greenish in the gills.
I quickly cast Unending Breath on myself to prevent getting sick, and looked back at Chron.
“Absolutely, best Warlock in the world, and he will be your guide. Pay close attention to everything he says, and you’ll be just fine.”
“He isn’t wearing any clothes.”
“We’re miles underground in the heart of Orgimmar, hunting Garrosh and fighting an army of every lewis carrol reject you can dip in purple paint that an old god could think of. And he’s naked. This is our expert?”
“He’s doing better than you are. Like twice as well. Maybe mo…”
“Point taken, no need to go on and on about it. Okay, let’s do this.”
As the rest of the group huddled together to discuss strategy, I walked over to Mibs. Oh dear lord, I think he flexed at me.
“So… what’s the plan?”
Mibs took a piece of chalk and began sketching an professional engineering diagram of the room, the conveyors, the machine, and the pipes. He labeled each part in sequence, drew zones of destruction and fields of fire, and began pointing out various bits as he talked.
“Here is the plan. We’ll move over here towards this pipe. Drop your personal portal, that way when we spread out between conveyor phases, you can get back faster when we have to go in. When I say go, we’re going to jump in this pipe and get dropped on the conveyor. Laser fences with small gaps will appear; don’t get touched or you’ll take severe damage. Enough that you might die or at least be a very crispy critter.”
“To continue. We will be on the conveyor. It will be moving in this direction, towards the machine, at a pace slightly faster than you can run even with enchanted boots. We will run against the flow, and three unfinished death machines will appear. I will call out what we want to destroy. We must pick one and only one, because as soon as one gets blown up the other two will turn turtle. Then we hop into a pipe just off the conveyor before getting pulled into the machine. Whichever death machine we destroy, we won’t have to deal with on the floor. Any questions?”
“Okay, here’s one. Why is a brilliant tactician and thoroughly-prepared agent of devastation dressed like a fruitcake?”
“Because fruitcakes are a pain in the ass, and you can’t get rid of them.”
“Fair enough… ”
We walked back over to the rest of the team in time to hear Chron say, “So when the entire field is full of spinning, hovering razor blades Mibs and Bear or Trajar and Chron will let an electromagnet through to clean them up”
“Right. Whichever conveyor team is up at the time.”
I broke in to ask, “We’re going to have two conveyor teams?”
“Yes, we’ll have to, once you’ve been on the conveyor you have to take a break, you can’t get right back up there or you’ll be laser chow.”
“Again, fair enough.”
“Okay, so, we gonna do this?”
Mibs and I ran over to the pipe closest to the left conveyor and jumped in as the rest of the team spread out around Blastfuse.
We dropped into the pipe, there was a feeling of rushing movement and then I plopped down onto a moving conveyor belt. Which immediately got criss-crossed with laser fences. And was moving at high speed.
I started running my butt off against the belt, and looming ahead of us, the first set of three devilish contraptions came through.
Mibs called out, “Go for the bombs first! Ignore the rest!”
I picked out the cluster of bombs, and began sending streamers of flame into them on the run until they blew up, all the time keeping an eye over my shoulder for gaps in the laser fencing to sidle over to.
The bombs blew up, and I turned to look for the pipe to jump into, and saw it just as the conveyor carried me past it.
I made a valiant leap for the pipe, and came up short, falling into the gap between the conveyor and the arena floor.
A little while later, a VERY little while later, I sat quietly at a campfire eating some snacks and listening to the conversation going on around me.
“Okay, so, by my count Bear has fallen off the edge, what, four times?”
“More like five.”
“And there was the time he stood ON the pipe to the conveyor, and a buzzing, spinning saw blade camped RIGHT ON THE PIPE so nobody could get in.”
“To be fair, that was Chron.”
“Okay, granted. But still. We’ve got one standnig in the blast zone when the drills broke through the crust, one case of intimate knowledge of a saw blade, on the premises, several jumps off the conveyor and a partridge in a pear tree.
Mibs spoke up and said, “Okay, Bear, you seem to be having… performance issues getting it in, I mean getting YOU in the big hole.”
“What we’ll do is, you go over near the pipe that you are trying to jump into and drop your personal portal. When you get to the end of the conveyor, instead of trying to make the pipe, ‘port.”
“So, kind of a ‘porta-pipey.”
“Do you think will work?”
“Can’t hurt. Let’s find out.”
Monstre stood up, dusted his hands off and said “Ready to get this done? All right, everyone. TIME TO DIE!”
Monstre charged in after Blackfuse, everyone else spread out, Arakeen leaped heroically behind Blackfuse and began unleashing a whirlwind of blows upon, I think, an unoffensive servo-cam, and Mibs and I hopped in the pipe, five by five.
This time for sure!
We dropped on the conveyor, ran towards the rapidly appearing parts, we attacked the bombs, and as we reached the darkness I activated my Demonic Circle and appeared perfectly safe and sound on the arena floor. IMMEDIATELY UNDER BLASTFUSE.
I quickly scurried away, got to range dodging what seemed like an entire universe of spinning saw blades, only to have one fly at me, slam me backwards to the ground in a shredded mass, and leave me broken and dying on the floor.
As I blacked out, the last words I heard were Tom calling out, “Sorry, Bear!”
About an hour later, and it was a somber bunch to be found munching on snacks.
“All right, let’s review.”
“Don’t stand close to the pipe or a saw blade can block it.”
“Don’t stand too close to the huge mechanical beast because it sends out waves of bad stuff that hurts everyone around it. Only one of our front line defenders can handle it.”
“Watch for the buzzbombs, and move before they pop out of the ground, just like dancing the waves of spreading crap on the Protectors of the Endless on the Terrace.”
“When we finally let an electromagnet through to sweep up all of the buzzsaw blades, do not stand directly in the path of the dozens of moving blades streaming directly toward you. This may come as a complete surprise, but that hurts. I thank you, and your healers will thank you.”
Somebody muttered, “Your healers will let your dumb ass die is what your healers will do.”
“Okay. I know you’re tired, I know you’re feeling sorry and sore, but this time it’s for real. Now let’s go get it!”
We lurched, I mean leaped to our feet and roared our defiance. This time for sure!
We spread out and prepared to give all we had, win or die. Again.
Siegemaster Blackfuse lifted it’s massive blue fist in the air and let loose with a shriek of tortured metal, freezing us in place as hard as stone.
All of us, that is, but Mibs.
Blastfuse roared at us, “Why aren’t you stone cold, Mibs?”
Loincloth swaying, Mibs called back “BECAUSE I’M ALREADY ROCK HARD.”
Shortly thereafter, we all died. But we were all immensely cheered up, I have to admit.
We ate some snacks, straightened out loincloths (so to speak), dusted off our robes, and went in for reals. No jokes, no cute catch phrases, just an iron determination to get this mechanical monstrosity pounded into the control panel.
We fought with furious intensity. On and off the conveyor belt the two teams jumped like well-timed pistons. The buzz blades were spread out in a perfect fan, giving plenty of room to run. The tracking lasers were guided safely away, the creeping crawling bombs were burned down, the whole team handled the chaos of destruction like dancing through the raindrops and never getting wet.
Finally, Arrakeen the Bloody unleashed a mighty blow, and in absolute silence embedded her axe blade into Blackfuses’ skull, ending the fight and the goblin’s need for a hairdresser permanently.
We rested, we cheered rather weakly, and then we looted his still warm corpse.
Chron lifted up a key. Even I could see it was only half of a key for the lock we saw.
“Hey everyone, guess what? Looks like we get to hunt a dinosaur after all!”
“Oh, boy. Just…. just oh boy.”