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What Do You Do When You Fall in a Pit?

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Mebius hefted his Mutastone, judging the distance between the Zookeeper’s burning hut and the rising steam.

 

I ain’t walking that...

 

He started to raise his hand, but quickly got a glimpse of two alternate futures, and instead turned to Kane.

 

You coming?

 

Why wouldn’t I?

 

Then hold on.

 

Mebius grabbed Kane’s arm in his steely grip, then raised his left hand with the Mutastone, flashing out a long, narrow tendril of god’s matter that whipped around a great tree in the distance. With equally surprising speed, Mebius snapped his wrist and the Mutastone began to shrink back to its original width, whipping Kane and Mebius across the forest.

 

In the rocks and trees below, sixteen-limbed apes and three-billed, razor-tipped toucans chattered and screeched. Amongst the din, a man in a torn gold suit and black pants fired a lazer as he leapt over a rock before being lost in the foliage; an ape exploded in a shower of limbs and giblets.

 

Tasty.

 

Can’t help but think I’ve seen that guy before.

 

It’s like some 1960s TV show!

 

I wonder if we can get those TV signals out here... Anyway, brace yourself!

 

The Mutastone suddenly slowed its retraction, stopping just short of slamming the two into a massive oak. A giant foot of god’s matter then reached out below them, lowering them safely to the ground.

 

Glad you’re a robot. Slingshots can tear apart normal people.

 

Kane’s teeth chattered just the same. Can you go a little slower next time?

 

No.

 

Mebius pointed to the sky. The steam had suddenly stopped rising, leaving the two below a white umbrella of water vapor.

 

There’s no water here. It must have come from the ground.

 

Kane activated his spectrometer, quickly discerning the narrow cracks in the rock from which minute traces of water vapor still remained. His sensors could probe no further, but he guessed there had to be an entrance somewhere.

 

Meanwhile, Mebius was tapping tree trunks with his Mutastone, listening carefully. Kane turned to him.

 

You know, there’s a MUCH easier way of doing this. DUCK.

 

The Hunter opened fire with his assault rifle, vaporizing tree trunks and giant boulders, anything that might hide a hidden passage. All around them, large branches and rock shards hurtled to the ground.

 

ARE YOU INSANE!? Mebius was cowering beneath a mutastone umbrella. Rocks shattered against it.

 

Kane laughed maniacally in an ambiguous color, blasting away like the madman he was.

 

Suddenly, the firing stopped and Kane strode forward amongst the rain of debris, raising his rifle without looking and vaporizing a particularly large branch that was about to fall on his head. Before him was a nice hole in the earth in front of the smoking remains of a tree trunk. Without hesitating, the Hunter leapt inside. Mebius followed quickly behind.

 

At the bottom of the hole lay a large ice cave, the petrified roots of the fake tree curling around its roof like gothic ribs. In the center was an underground lake that had been flash-boiled, the mud now frozen solid. On one bank of the dried lake bed lay an old man, frozen stiff and with a thick mustache crudely drawn on his face. Kane knelt before him.

 

Hey, it’s our old friend, the Architect.

 

Older than usual...

 

And colder. He’s frozen solid, twice as cold as the ice around. Looks like it was a fight. Recently, too. I don’t have to tell you the winner drew that.

 

Kane pointed to the mustache, then straightened, dusting himself off.

 

Guess he wasn’t much of a God after all. Did you believe any of that crap?

 

God? Mebius tapped the old man with his boot, spat. There is no God.

 

There’s nothing in the sack. Where’d the winner go?

 

They looked out into the lake. A set of footprints led into the center, abruptly vanishing.

 

That’s unusual. The Oroboro tossed a dead fish, which disappeared into the center with an abrupt sucking sound.

 

That’s not quicksand.

 

Kane scanned it further. The material’s temperature was no different than the surrounding material, but it was spectrographically different than anything else in the cave. Come to think of it, it looked atomically different from anything else in the Universe.

 

Whoever went in there, he’s got to have what I need. Time to pull a Beowulf.

 

Mebius shook his mutastone. It formed a half-dome above his head which then extended until it covered all his body but his feet in an egg. He ran into the mud, then leapt, the sphere covering his feet in a total shell. His muffled yell came through right before he hit:

 

See you at the bottom!

 

Kane shrugged. Air breathers.

 

He strode to the center, just before the footsteps ended. Kane tentatively stuck his foot in. It was answered by a sucking sound and the hunter quickly pulled his foot back. Or tried to at least - his toe was stuck in the ooze. Trying to wrench free, he saw to his amazement the goop slowly rise up his leg, pulling him in further. He violently pulled back, but was slingshot forward with even greater strength, falling head-over-heels into the goop.

 

The goop was here, the goop was there, the goop was all around. It glooped and blooped and popped and pooped like some ancient, drunken rime.

 

After some struggling against the ooze, Kane eventually realized that there was nothing he could do but continue falling. Deciding that this was going to be the case for awhile, and wondering why he’d decided to follow Mebius inside in the first place, he realized the next best thing to do would be to pull out his basket. And start weaving.

 

He was pretty sure that his underwater basketweaving skills would also prove useful in a bottomless pit of goop.

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