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Fine...I knew I could not keep this façade any longer. I am not just an archaeologist awed by ancient mysteries and relics. I am a king of these people, but NOT a dictator! Most of the tale I have said was indeed true. However, I had not mentioned what of my colleagues on that same expedition. They, one intellectually minded people, have grow to turned corrupted by the wealth of the gems underneath and the shiny relics at the surface. The arguments never ended, up until they had enough. They willingly controlled their "shares" of the tribes that were surviving below, before New Krystalris. They were making armies for the purpose to have at each others throats for the sake of wealth. I had to step in and rally the people to not only grow financially, but to rebel against them.
It took a couple years to put reality through my twisted colleagues with sheer force, but only lasted with bloodshed of the casualties. The scar was from one of our many battles, and I hid it with make-up to not stand out.We managed to drive them back to the surface and to stay up there, as we were safe down there. I am still not sure if they and their willed-bent tribes are wandering the deserts and still fighting each other, but I had the role the let these people thrive. The people of New Krystalris became overjoyed and worshipped me ever since. But I have seen the betrayal of who were once my friends, and from some of the actions and sacrifices I made have made me questioned my own purity. THAT was the real reason why I left.
MARLEYBONE! MARLEYBONE! MARLEYBONE!
The amphitheater was packed. The crowd was anxious, shouting the name over and over, waving signs and flags. We managed to rush the stage and get within a few rows of the podium.
There were endless welcomes and thank-yous from the all the union leaders--everybody trying to get a piece of the action. Eventually the chanting of the crowd grew too loud for any further introduction, and the lights dimmed...
...and there was Marleybone, on stage, under the spotlight. Well it was almost our Professor Squirrellybones, but not quite. A twin? Then this one had lead a far harsher life--worried skin, a stern expression... and a scar running down over the left eye, starting at the forehead and ending at the chin.
The crowd went wild.
It was no surprise that they discovered the truth. I am happy to hear that Melinda and Persephone are safe (looks like I don't need back-up, after all), they appear to have found the city Melinda refers to as "New Krystalris". And I am no dictator! Back in my archeological expedition days, a group of fellow explorers and I came here and discovered the civilization underground. It appears that long ago they decided to live underneath to avoid the environmental hazards, abandoning the surface. Of course when we found them, they weren't this...modernized, I should say. Not to be humble, but connections with other outside businesses sort of boosted their income. Helping them advance made the people want me to be their "king", despite their last one died many decades ago when they lived at the surface. I didn't want to be a king or dictator, sounded like a lot of work, and thought the people would become independent once they progress further with the crystal trade. So I left to continue what I did, but I see that they were trying to make me return back there, trying to convince me with their hard labor and praise. It explains the message in the code and the rods. Due to this good information, perhaps I need to get to New Krystalris so we can depart this place as a whole crew.
Okay so you want to know the second weirdest thing about New Krystalris? It’s how nobody gives you a second look.
I call it “New Krystalris“ because it looks just like the old deserted ruins of Krystalris that I left in the mining machine, except it’s full of people. Packed! Everybody bustling this way and that, working hard at the glowing crystal mining business, selling picks and shovels and street food with tentacles. The mines are crazy with the crystals, and everybody’s focused on digging them out, pushing wheelbarrows around, “mining” machines popping in and out of existence here and there...
The best thing about New Krystalris was that it didn’t take me long time find Persephone! She’d already had time to learn her way around, so she’s totally been taking care of me.
She explained that the main thing that’s going down is that there’s just ONE buyer for the whole crystal trade. It’s like the only company, but it’s also like the government, and a dictatorship...
Because the number one weirdest thing about New Krystalris? The giant posters all around town with the face of this dictator on them? It’s a VERY familiar face, and they’ve all got one word in huge font printed at the bottom:
Last night a roaring sound awoke from my slumber, and looking through the window I saw a large cloud of dust going further into the distance. Finding Melinda's note is saddening indeed. Honestly, I began to feel as it was my fault for all this. I mean this crew aren't treasure hunters, but meant for delivering unique cargo. Now that Persephone and Melinda are gone, I am unsure what to do now. Captain Trix has been locked in the captain's quarters for a long while now, remaining unresponsive. My mind is blank now. The only thing I can do is leave a special item behind in Krystalris: a communication device signaling people in a large radius. In case our crew members need to return, they can receive the signal to reach the device, and reaching it would communicate with Atlas. A neat airship tool in case of being stranded. It can also be used if we leave, but I am not sure. It's all the Captain's decision if responsive. Until then, I managed to be connected with some old friends to send airships for the search, as well as delivering provisions and supplies. They will come soon, but until then, I just hope those two are alright.
Awoke last night to the sound of angels and rainbows streaming through the porthole. I swung out of my bunk, raced to the hatch, dropped the rope ladder and climbed down as fast as I could.
We'd stayed moored outside of Krystalris on the off chance Persephone would return. I scrambled over the dunes to the place the odd mining machine had been parked and raced up to it. The dust was still settling and the engines were dying down.
But there was no Persephone. In the driver's seat was nothing but a dark stain. Perhaps she'd spilled a latte.
I've felt responsible ever since Persephone left. Not that it was my job to give orders, but couldn't I have done more to stop her?
There's little left for me here. I've realized she was the main thing that kept me going.
Which is why, when you read this, I will be gone. I'm getting in the mining machine and seeing where it takes me. Looks like if I press this big red button....
Well this was unexpectedly tragic. Poor Persephone, she was a good engineer. And the machine gone, too, almost made this job for nothing. Weeks of long work and danger for this. Losing a good crew member and the machine. Chances are we should attempt to navigate Persephone's location from where she would have landed, judging by the takeoff arc. And to think it was once used for mining excavations. Despite the collected relics, we should not leave a crew member behind, unless she really is gone and considered missing. I would say find her, but that is the Captain's choice. Personally, I wonder why we took this job in the first place? It sounded shady from the start.
Damn. Why did it have to be Persephone? Well, because she's an engineer, and I could tell by the way she was eyeing that thing from the start that she wouldn't be able to help herself. All those weeks she spent studying it, getting literally inside of it, cleaning out the pipes and intake valves and cylinders, trying to figure out how it ran. She was the first of us to note that there was no way to start it up without somebody in the driver's seat. Seemed like the most natural thing in the world, when you thought about it. But I was suspicious of it, not least because we had no idea what it was going to do once we revved it up.
I thought it should be Dr. Funnybones behind the wheel, but she claimed to be too non-mechanically inclined.
So Peresphone straps herself into the chair, starts turning the knobs and pushing the petals and ZING frickin RAINBOWS start shooting from the pipes and the air fills with what sounds like a choir of angels and it's like lasers shooting straight up into space and then WHOOMP it's gone, with just a couple of dust devils left dancing in the wind where it used to be.
Ever since we found the mining machine (although my thoughts of it was much more...magnificent than what it actually is), it is now prepared for testing that will occur soon, and may get us wealthy off of some gems. Finally after all this trouble, this journey may be finally worth it in the end, and we may move on. However, my ears bring some strange rumors of a difference about me. Admittedly, the long walk of the desert with the Captain and the relics, which are prepared to be sold to potential clients, was exhausting. But to make sure, I got some rest and began doing my usual duties. However, the feeling of the ancient spirits of the sands are around...Nah, must be rubbish. There are no curses or magical things lurking around, that's for sure. The main prior is to test the machine, claim a good load of gems, and the crew fills their pockets with profit. Maybe even sell the machine to a massive mining company when our job is complete. Anyways, best be getting back to some archaeological research.
We finally got all of the sand cleaned out of the Machine. Seems like it took weeks, using q-tips to get the sand out of every nook and cranny, and clearing out all the tubes. It's still not clear to me what all these tubes are for--great swarms of chrome tubes flowing around the driver's seat. It's like a hot-rod motorcycle without the wheels--a great big seat and handlebars sitting in a nest of massive chrome pipes. I expected a great excavator, with steam shovels, or drills, not some sooped-up Harley ready for the moto-show. How is this thing supposed to work?
Even stranger, Dr. Funnybones has become almost an entirely new person. Their body movements, their attitude... even the way they talk, it's like it's being translated from a different language entirely. Is this still the same Dr. Alex we started the journey with? Has their well-worn persona been a facade this entire time? Have they become inhabited by some distant, alien intelligence? Or are they just messing with us?
In any case, it'll soon be time to fire up the Machine soon to see what it can do.