Drail Silverleaf

Le Féérique

Jenova (Aether)

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Exploring the Crystal Tower, First Style

(note: direct dungeon and post-dungeon quotes; names mentioned in my party are given by permission.)

second of two entries

Memory Sphere 4

Day 35

After several days of rejoicing world over, things got back to relative normality. Work prospecting kept me pretty busy from being able to help out Zac, Xel, Lili, and Chloe. I was even able to create a semi-permanent gateway for myself to come and go from the First at will without feeling drained all the time.

I did have an unexpected run-in with Aislinn shortly after the skies all cleared up in the First. We had a relatively peaceful chat about our various activities. Also had learned a mild surprise: time scaling between the Source and the First were more skewed than I originally thought. She had been here for the last 6 months compared to my month and a bit. Inquiring after her maintenance schedule, she said any extraneous damage that she could manage on her own came from a mineable substance called 'bluespirit'. Not entirely familiar with it, I endeavored to find a few spots on my time off. We parted from the tavern once I got notice that my work shift was due to start.

Then one afternoon I was hailed by a tower guardsman by the name of Bethana. She was looking for volunteers to explore the crystal tower with the Exarchs' blessing. More specifically, to be the attack vanguard of a section of the tower that had some monsters unleashed from within and made progress come to a screeching halt. Also if the opportunity arose to investigate an unusual aetheric signature coming from the tower that is not a normal part of it.

This was a perfect opportunity to scratch one of the itches I've had about the structure. So I waited at the opened doors for the rest of the team to assemble. It took a few minutes, but another striker--that's someone that is meant to deal damage unhindered by retaliation--a healer, and a tank joined in. After a brief round of introductions, I learned that the strikers name was Tori Stark, the healer was calld Leonardo Loire, and the tank was Hakuryu Kirisame.

Once we were inside, the fighting began as the other three rushed forward while I hung back. Seemed a bit crazy to advance without knowing the terrain, honestly, but that's just me. The base of the tower was as NOAH reported; blue stone and a stone and gold trim double arching staircase going up. Though the hole from where creatures were coming from on the first landing was not there previously. Dispatching them was relatively simple.

Moving through the corridors and taking down various monsters, I began to see certain similarities between them. Coeurls and allag minotaurs chief among many of the early encounters. Most of them had metal plates melded into their flesh...or perhaps flesh covering most of their exoskeletal frame. That got me to briefly think of Aislinn and Trelynn, a pair of android war machines that the Winters had excavated from Asys lla years back. Perhaps some of the work I did with synthetic flesh had translated in these creatures.

Anyroad, we encounter what could be generously called a mini behemoth. It certainly fought like one...until it stood up and uncoupled a sword that had been previously disguised as a mane to start whacking at Haruryu. Also about the same time I noticed several restless creatures in glass cages. Internal power was still operating and what looks to be containment fields were active. Until a wild swing by the mini-behemoth broke the cage of one creature and began to attack the party. After that, the tank was very careful to remain away from the containment cells for the duration of the fight.

Upon victory, a portal opened leading us down several levels. That's when something happened. My toolkit began emitting a strange beep. The rest of my party just forged ahead but I half-fixated on the noise. It was a datalog scanner provided to me as an employee of the Garlond Ironworks, holding my registry data as well as the ability to access work records. Another console, just after the portal transit, lit up in recognition. Figuring I had a few moments, I went over and scanned into the console. A message transferred into it, then my party shouted for assistance. I slipped on a pair of half goggles and allowed the text of the transmission flow to it while I assisted the party with combat. It read:

Datalog 2.5
Our only hope lies in the Crystal Tower, though it did not yield its secrets easily. Even opening the doors was a monumental undertaking. Without the founder's designs and the NOAH reports left by the Sons of Saint Coinarch, we would never have stood a chance of succeeding. None of us were prepared for the spectacle that awaited us when we first stepped into the tower. To be surrounded by the marvels of a lost age took our breath away. And there, at its center, we found him.

...Who was him?

Anyway, just to be safe, I kept the half goggle on as it didn't impede my ability to be an effective combatant. We wound our way down a few floors, finding two additional entries.
Datalog 3.5
Our research into the Emperor's Throne is almost complete, as we now understand the methods used to open a doorway to the World of Darkness, oetherwise known as the Thirteenth. However, this is only the beginning of our plan. Even if we find a way to the First, it is already too late to prevent the Eighth Umbral Calamity. For that, we must travel not only to another world, but to another time. Thankfully, the datalogs gathered over the years detailing battles with various primals, pointed us in the right direction.

Datalog 4.5
Just as we thought the pieces were in place, we came to the realization that traversing time and space has its...difficulties. It is one thing to possess the technology necessary to enable such a feat; quite another to actually perform it. The Interdimensional rift, as it was called in the founder's datalogs, is what I can only describe as "infinite chaos". To navigate it would take expertiese beyond our ken. There was, however, once a being capable of exactly that. The one known as "Omega". And yet, despite all the research carried out, the mystery of how it was able to cross the rift remains unsolved.

Very interesting facts, both of which I put on hold as we faced yet another construct. This one had control of electricity. It would periodically lay down orbs that would suddenly expand into destructive spheres. Once or twice party members got caught in the blasts but the healer put us right as rain again. In short order this too fell to us.

The final stretch to what I will call as the core operating room we faced only a handful of creatures; some biomechanical and some pure mechanical. And when we reach the main chamber, we find this lovely being:

The general likeness resembles a Biggs and Wedge profile from Alexander up in the davanian hinterlands. I've flown by there when occasion rises to visit Idyllshire. The armor plating is very different and it has what appears to be a modified version of the Ironworks logo at major joint intersections. What's more is that the half goggle was alerting me to a rather big aetheric leak coming from it. Before I even attempt to plead with my party to forestall attacking it so I could have a chance to fully inspect it for repairs they rushed in to assault it. Sighing, I I hastily joined in combat, though I was aiming for non-critical areas. It took awhile, but it suffered enough external damage to force it into shutdown mode.

Which is just fine by me. I told them I'd make the final report to the tower guard and they hurried on their way to whatever they were planning to do next. After they left, I find what appears to be a diagnostic panel which is miraculously intact. Checking to make sure I'm alone, I enter my credential on whim to see if I get a response. To my genuine surprise, I do. Emergency power reroutes to the auxiliary and that allowed a partial reboot of system functionality. From there it was a relatively simple process to trace the aetheric leak. Fixing the leak was a different matter. At best I was able to weld the leak point with some materials that were on hand and a bit of ingenuity, but I'll need to have a better toolkit to establish long term repairs. For now, the aether within the machine, designated 'Tycoon' on a nameplate by the terminal, is stable and after a final diagnostic check showed no further sign of aetheric leakage.

Satisfied, I return up to the surface I'm greeted again by Bethana. "Excellent work," she says. "Not only did you reveal the cause of the aetherial fluctuations, you were able to remove the threat entirely." I laugh inward but make no move to refute that claim. "Thanks to you, the researchers have already completed their preliminary observations. Though, their findings were somewhat surprising." She beckoned me to follow her to a stall.

enables direct video playback

Now, I don't know if this message was intended for me, or for someone that this Biggs the 3rd knew from his past. It was pretty clear that the gamble had paid off even if he didn't know the result. And likely never know the results.

For the actions recently done will surely alter the future of the Source. This puts in a paradox, though. One of which we'll never truly understand let alone solve.
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