Courtesy: Part 61

I pushed the bot views into the background and paid attention to the world around me. Alex pointed at the mounds around us and the ceiling. All of them sagged and dripped viscous, brown goo. More liquid puddled beneath the withered skin.

“We should grab everybody,” I said. “We might be able to get away with leaving Flame Legion. I know she doesn’t exactly enjoy dying, though.”

Alex nodded, “Yeah. That hasn’t changed, but she’s more used to it. I’d leave her.”

Dayton stepped around me and put Jody over his shoulder, “It’d be nice to have a save point in real life.”

“Tell me about it,” Alex said, “I’m standing next to her most of the time.”

Katuk stood where he’d been, still with a bit of humonster goo on his hand. Daniel lay further down the row.

A thought struck me. Turning to Kals, I asked, “Can you wake everyone up?”

The mound across from the control mound that Alex had touched lost its structure. Half the mound collapsed, the walls falling outward, the top falling in, and brown goo splashing into the row with everything else.

Three humonsters fell with it, none of them looking any better than the mounds. One turned to look at us. In Arete’s voice but as scratchy as if he’d spent a lifetime smoking, one of the humonsters whispered, “Magnus knows you’re looking for him. I wish I could be there when you find him.”

The other two mouthed it, sometimes spitting on the hard consonants and staring at the floor. One didn’t make it to the end, slumping and leaking from the cracks in its skin.

“Yeah,” Alex said, “but you won’t be. The main mound over here sent out ‘die, die, die’ and so is everything else now.”

“Fucker,” Arete whispered and then the remaining two humonsters slumped and began to seep liquid of their own.

Kals choked out a small laugh, “This world is so messed up, but yes, I think I can get all of them up now. Figuring out Julie’s system was the hard part. Can you disable their buzzers?”

“Sure,” I disabled the security measures that prevented anyone else from doing it and turned them off.

She stepped over to one of Jenny’s copies and started talking in a low voice that vibrated with strange tones. I didn’t understand what she said—my buzzer obscured it.

Jenny’s eyes opened and she pushed herself up, grabbing a long breath before saying, “I was so useless, but I’m telling Portal to get us out. The problem is they got other people too, so she’s starting with the people who can’t move and everyone near them.”

“Fine,” Alex said, “Let’s not stay at ground zero, okay?”

“We should get Captain Commando and Night Cat,” I said, “so maybe we should go to the main room? Also, the boy’s there and he’s up.”

“Portal’s creating an opening there. It’s in the middle of everything,” Jenny frowned. “I’ll tell her about the boy. We don’t want him going through, do we?”

“I’m not sure it matters,” I checked my bots, “he should be dying with the rest of them.”

My bots views showed Izzy and Jaclyn collecting Haley and Cassie, carrying them to a spot on the far side of the middle circle where a spot had begun to sparkle.

The boy had lain down again.

“They’re on the far side of the circle. I’m going to stop and at least check on… whatever he, they, it, or whatever pronouns a group intelligence uses.”

Plus, I wanted to know if he was dying or planning something.

Amy eyed me, “I’m going with you.”

Kals, who’d stopped next to Daniel, shook her head,“I think you should leave it alone.”

“We don’t have time to talk about this,” Alex picked up Katuk and started walking down the row, his boots splashing in the accumulating fungus goo.

I admired Alex’s confidence that Katuk wouldn’t behead him by reflex, but it wasn’t I chance I’d have taken. Still, he wasn’t wrong.

Asking Kals, “Should I carry him?”

With a sniff, she said, “No,” and repeated what she’d said to Jenny. Daniel’s eyes opened and he pulled himself up, looking down at the brown liquid on his costume.

“Yuck,” he looked up. “We should get out of here.”

We followed Alex out, Kals hurrying to catch Alex. The sooner she released Katuk, the better.

It didn’t take before we’d found the opening that we’d entered through, making our way into the center of the circle again. The light was dimmer, the rainbow of colors replaced with a dull yellow.

Brooke’s portal glimmered on the far side of the circle and the group began to run except for Sean who flew next to Dayton. Jody still seemed to be unconscious.

Chunks of shriveled, dripping fungus fell from the ceiling, more of it the closer it was to the mound Alex killed.

Daniel spoke in my head, It might be worth talking to the fungus faction, but I still can’t hear anything from it.

“Tell them to wait for me,” I said, running toward the boy and the pool. Amy ran next to me, Bloodspear in hand.

It didn’t take more than a few seconds to reach him. From the ground, he turned his head to look at us. He didn’t look any better than the humonsters. Shriveled skin and pooling liquid seemed worse on a child, even a fake child.

He whispered, “I’m sorry we lost control. I meant it. I would have allied with you.”

4 thoughts on “Courtesy: Part 61”

  1. “It didn’t take before we’d found the opening”

    Should be “It didn’t take LONG before we’d found the opening”

  2. Clever, waking Flame Legion up first so she can communicate directly with Portal.

    Also, a tiny typo:

    “I admired Alex’s confidence that Katuk wouldn’t behead him by reflex, but it wasn’t I chance I’d have taken.”

    Should be “it wasn’t >a< change I'd have taken."


  3. I think this could be better phrased: “The main mound over here sent out ‘die, die, die’ and so is everything else now”.

    This is Alex talking about how he anti-healed the mushroom collective, right? So his power killed the main mound, which sent out a pulse and killed all its offshoots, but I’m not sure the…agency of the creatures and people involved is correctly represented here. Also, “and so is everything else now” is an awkward bookend to the sentence, imo.

    I don’t know why I get so pedantic on your story, I’m more snarky when I complain about other web novels I read. Still an asshole, but a different flavor.

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