The Golden Crate


by hosted


0


THE
GOLDEN
CRATE

Ulysses Ai


Fresh from battling giant, demi-human spiders from Arachnon, our hero, YOU, once more finds himself thrust into the bosom of adventure. Can you retrieve the Golden Crate from the evil clutches of the arch villain? Great obstacles stand in your way, such as: Space Pirates, Insane Computers, The Outlawed Concept of Time Travel, and at long last: a Death-bot.
Succeed, and you will be able to have a girlfriend! Fail, and a host of interesting fates await you.
Fates such as:
Beaten to death by a grumpy ape
Having all your blood sucked out by a giant mosquito
Torn apart by crocodiles
Boiled alive in a vat of Brussels sprouts
Sentenced to Death as a Trade Commodity
Crushed by a grief-stricken employer
And many, many more…!




ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Special thanks to Al Sander for his comprehensive vetting of The Golden Crate.



NOTES FOR THOSE WHO PLAYED PLANET OF THE SPIDERS
In the course of your assault on the citadel of the Spider People, you may have acquired combat bonuses when using Energy Whips or Blast Rods. These bonuses should be retained in this adventure if you play with the same character; that is: with the same SKILL, STAMINA and LUCK stats.

(fightingfantasy.org editors note - Character carryover/importing not yet implemented, sorry)

Read the Rules.

rules


HEALING SHOTS AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS

In the course of this adventure, you will lose STAMINA. On very rare occasions you will be instructed by the text to restore STAMINA. Otherwise, you can restore you own STAMINA at any time, except in battle, if you have nanobotic healing shots or Brussels sprouts amongst your possessions.
Healing shots will restore 5 points of STAMINA each. Brussels Sprouts, due to their great vitality, will restore 5 points as well. But because they are so yucky, they also reduce your LUCK by 1.

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FIGHTING UNARMED

If you lose all of your weapons, yet find yourself in combat, you must reduce your SKILL by 2 for that combat, and the damage you can inflict is reduced to just 1 STAMINA point.
For this reason, it is inadvisable to fight without a weapon.

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SPECIAL WEAPONS

In the course of this adventure, you may acquire one of the following weapons, or face an opponent wielding one. The descriptions below will normally accompany the relevant combat encounter, but may be referred to here at any time.

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Blast Rod

Based on stun batons used to control unruly types, the Blast Rod is a stun baton magnified to combat proportions. Longer and heavier, it may be wielded like a stave, and additionally delivers out of either end a blast of electrical charge.
While it inflicts only the standard 2 points of damage, it also affects the opponent’s nervous system, lowering their SKILL by 2 for the next round. This effect lasts for one round only, so winning many rounds in a row keeps your opponent’s SKILL at a –2 penalty rather than the penalties being accumulative.
There is no penalty for using this weapon. Upon receiving basic training, you will be able to add +1 to your Attack Strength, while Advanced training yields a +2 bonus.

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Energy Whip

The ultra-modern version of this old favourite consists of a length of delicately woven metal fibres. When activated, its entire length crackles with energy and it defies gravity, thus responding to the slightest flick of the wrist. Even in this passive form it can do damage, but its true worth is experienced when it is ‘cracked’. This is achieved by pressing the cracker button as the whip is flicked at an opponent. The tip of the whip will then explode with a burst of plasma. Timing is crucial. When you win an attack round, roll one die. Whatever comes up is the amount of damage you have inflicted, with 6 representing perfect timing.
Initially this weapon will incur a –2 penalty to your SKILL. Upon basic training, this penalty is removed, and on advanced training you will gain a 1-point Attack Strength bonus.

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Laser Knife and Laser Sword

Usually made of polymer, the edges of the blades of these weapons are grooved. In these grooves run intense laser beams that provide a hot-cutting edge. Consequently they can cut through metal, or stone.
In combat they are used normally, but a laser knife inflicts 2 points damage, while a sword inflicts 4 points.
There is no penalty for using a laser sword. Upon receiving basic training, you will be able to add +1 to your Attack Strength, while Advanced training yields a +2 bonus.

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Comet

Comet is the common name for what is technically known as a Flaming Wi-Fi Morning Star. In the Middle Ages knights fought by swinging spiked balls around on a length of chain. In this modern age the ball is a levitating orb that has jets of blue-hot flame rather than spikes, and instead of being swung on a chain has gone wireless, and is controlled by the movements of the shaft, still held in the wielder’s hands.
While offline, the two parts are together, like an old-fashioned mace. Upon activation, the ball leaps up and starts jetting flames. The ball can then be send at an opponent by tilting the shaft forward. The orb’s movements are an exaggeration of the movement of the tip of the shaft, with a flick of a few centimetres sending the flaming orb shooting forward a few metres, depending on the calibration.
The comet is difficult to control, and carries a –2 SKILL penalty when in use. However, it is so effective in attack that any opponent who finds himself wounded by it, must use the next round to free themselves from the attack of the hovering ball. That is: if you win an attack round you score 5 points of damage. If you opponent wins the next round, this means they manage to free themselves from your attack, which otherwise continues to burn them at a rate of 5 points per round.
The shaft also features a ‘hover’ button that will keep the orb stationary while the shaft is waved about. This allows the user to keep the ball stationary while they use the shaft to defend themselves. For this reason, if you lose an attack round, winning the next round merely means that you manage to regain your stability and reengage the flaming orb.
Initially this weapon will incur a –2 penalty to your SKILL. Upon basic training, this penalty is removed, and on advanced training you will gain a 1-point Attack Strength bonus.

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WeaponDamageInitial PenaltyBasic Training BonusAdvanced Training Bonus
Energy WhipDie roll-2 AS0+1
Blast Rod2, with –2 to opponent’s AS in next round0+1+2
Laser sword (knife)4 (2)0+1+2
Comet5-20+1


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background


BACKGROUND

Looking in the mirror, you adjust the collar of your dark blue uniform. It is a rather impressive uniform for an operations assistant; and a small morsel of pleasure after a recent series of crushing disappointments.
After freeing Earth from the grip of the spider-people of Arachnon, you reasonably expected accolades and rewards. Unfortunately, your efforts went undocumented, and you received nothing! But then you met HER. So beautiful, so helpless. You fell in love with her on the spot. Who needs the adoration of billions when you have the love of a lovely maiden? All you would have to do is escort her home; and then her grateful (and wealthy) father would reward you.
You were on Earth at the time and expected merely to have to walk her home; at worst to catch a taxi. But no, the lovely maiden informed you that she lived on Amorphonon 12.
No matter! You would go to the ends of the universe for your love. So you sold everything you owned to have enough funds to purchase 2 tickets to the Amorphonon system, home to an intelligent species of shape-shifters. That should have been your first clue, but you were blinded by love.
Upon arrival, and escorting your lovely to her palatial home, you soon discovered that the woman of your dreams was in fact a shape-shifter named Barry. He had run away from home in a fit of rebellion, and then ran out of money. He needed a way to get home; and then you came along…
Barry’s father is indeed rich, a merchant prince among his people, and offers you a position aboard one of his trading ships to show his gratitude for returning his son to him. Being unemployed, and marooned by a lack of funds, you agree to this offer. So it is you sign up for duties aboard the Golden Stream.
Barry is most apologetic for deceiving you, but tells you he genuinely enjoyed your kisses. This hardly makes you feel better, but a moment later all of your unpleasant memories are forgotten as you lay your eager eyes on HER!
Even though Barry’s sister (a real female this time) is a shape shifter, and that her true form is more like a blob of jelly, you find yourself falling in love again. That light in her eyes is real! The warmth of that smile that makes you melt cannot be fake.
Barry tells you that although his sister Pomplompotom does not have a boyfriend, their father is very protective of his precious daughter, and would not let her go out with just anyone. Reminding yourself of your heroic, albeit undocumented record, you approach lord Gablentite to reveal your interest in his daughter.
The merchant prince doesn’t quite see things your way, even after you tell him about the Attila and your heroics on Earth. He politely refuses your request and dispatches the Golden Stream to a trading port on the other side of the galaxy.
Lovelorn, you begin your duties aboard the trading vessel. The Golden Stream makes a series of stops, picking up and unloading goods. Your job basically consists of overseeing the loading-bots. Whenever you try to assert yourself, they meekly obey, but go back to doing things in their own way as soon as your back is turned. They beep politely when you tell them of your adventures, but you suspect that even they do not believe you.
Finishing your inspection in the mirror, you leave your small cabin and begin to make your rounds. The ship is carrying some Palkasian Ale, and the last thing you need is a hold full of drunken space-rats. Last night you laid out several traps. Seemingly no more than a metal box with one side missing, the traps attract prey with whatever bait is tossed inside. Once something enters, heat rays vaporise everything within.
Checking the traps, you find they have all been deactivated, and the bait is missing. You curse the space rodents, although in one of the traps you do find a polite thank-you note.
As you consider your next step in your campaign against the space rats, you feel the ship shudder. Moments later the ship vibrates again. Curious, you leave the hold. Even as you walk down the corridor, the lights go red. It is a red alert! You dash up to the nearest wall screen and consult the information displayed thereon.
The ship is under attack! You manipulate the controls to find out what is going on. You quickly learn that a small vessel has somehow boarded your cargo ship.
Accessing surveillance, you scan through the decks until you see them.
“Wa!” you exclaim. The space pirates wear space-black fatigues, clad in black body armour and armed with blasters. On their shoulders are badges of a planet with a red P superimposed over it. The Parentbotians! Has your parent-bot been revived somehow?
Not waiting to see more, you turn and flee back into the cargo hold. Looking for a place to hide, you desperately open a crate of dehydrated Brussels sprouts and dump out enough of the packets to jump into the crate and hide trembling within.
About 10 minutes later you hear someone poking around outside. You jump when you hear a voice speak from right next to your crate.
“Hey, Kel! Check this out!”
Footsteps approach. “What?”
“Brussels sprouts! There must be more in this crate.”
“Yuk! You like them?”
“Well, actually I lost all my tastebuds as a kid. Science class. Incident with a Bunsen burner. But Brussels sprouts are very healthy!”
“We’ve captured the ship. All of this stuff is going to end up back at the base anyway. We can claim what we want then. Remember why we’re here. Big Bob told us to find the ‘special delivery’ at all costs.”
“What is this ‘special delivery’ anyway?”
“How do I know? Come on; let’s get out of here. I think I saw a space rat. The thing was a big as a dog…”
The footsteps recede. Special delivery? Thinking back you do remember picking up a crate on Jaramborak 4. A small, golden crate that was delivered under guard to the captain’s quarters. When you asked about it, you were just told that it was something for your employer, lord Gablentite.
If you could stop the space-pirates from stealing it, then perhaps your heroism would convince Pomplompotom’s father to give you her hand in boyfriend-girlfriend-ness. However, the nerve to emerge from the box eludes you. You feel the ship start to move and make the queasy transition into hyperspace. A few hours later the ship drops back into normal space, and after some shuddering all goes still.
While remaining in the crate indefinitely is an attractive prospect, given how safe and warm you feel while you are inside it, two factors prompt you to leave: i) you need to go to the toilet, ii) boredom. When you emerge, you see that the entire hold is still full of its cargo, but there are no sign of the pirates.
Cautiously, you make your way out of the hold and (after a brief detour to a lavatory unit) seek out the nearest wall screen. On it is a forward view from the ship, showing an uncomfortably large star, and superimposed over it are the flashing red words:

STELLAR COLLISION IMMENANT
PLEASE INPUT COURSE CHANGE

Not again! Checking to make sure you have your ID with you, you dash to a lift. You go up to the command deck and through the plush halls to the bridge. As soon as you step through the doors, heat washes over you as an orange glare blinds you. Someone has set the bridge on fire! Realising escape is in order, you carefully make your way to the nearest evacuation bay.
You had not yet spared a thought for the rest of the crew, but as you enter the evacuation bay you find one of them here; a large blob of featureless reddish jelly lying motionless on the floor. You didn’t social much with the rest of the people on board. They had heard about you and Barry. Apparently it was hilarious for crewmembers to turn into beautiful women and invite you back to their cabins. Then just when things were getting interesting, they would shape-shift into something disgusting. After the last time, when you ended up kissing a giant maggot, you decided to avoid the rest of the crew altogether. Additionally, falling for the same ruse more than 3 times would be start to be embarrassing.
But looking down at the blob of jelly on the deck, you feel sad. Having no experience of religion or spirituality, you don’t know what to do or say, but feel you must do something to honour the dead. You salute the blob. “Abracadabra,” you say reverently.
The blob starts to squelch and ooze in response to your voice. It is still alive! Out of the reddish jelly a human face forms. “The Golden Crate! You must get it back!” the shapeshifter says urgently.
“Why? What’s in it?” you ask curiously.
“A great treasure,” the blob gasps dramatically. “You must find it and take it back to Amorphonon 12. You will be richly rewarded. Given anything you desire. The fate of our people depends upon it. Go quickly!”
The face fades away as the blob oozes back into a shapeless mass. You sense that it is truly dead now. You look at the nearest escape pod, ready to take you to safety. Yet again heroism has presented itself to you. And this time you will not fail! You will retrieve the crate, and return it to Amorphonon 12. You will be given a hero’s welcome, offered anything you desire. And your choice? That Pomplompotom become your girlfriend!

Now turn to 1


1


Glancing at the nearest wall screen, you estimate that you have a few minutes at least to grab a few items to aid in your quest. Right now your pockets are empty except for your ID (useless outside of this ship), a cash card with 54 Galactic Roubles, and a packet of dehydrated Brussels sprouts that fell into your pocket while you were strategically cowering.
You guess that you are dealing with a serious opponent here. Now that the fear has passed, you realise that your parent-bot has not returned; instead, the space pirates that formed its army have found a new raison-d’etre: to get rich! (A pedestrian, uninspiring pastime that is nonetheless extremely popular among denizens of the galaxy.)
Whatever is in the Golden Crate is obviously so important that they would destroy the Golden Stream and its valuable cargo, in order to cover their tracks and leave no chances that they can be traced. But what could possibly be more valuable than a fully stocked cargo ship? Even scrapping the ship would yield more wealth than most people earned in their entire lives.
Leaving such pondering for when you are not on a spaceship that is about to plunge into a sun, you return your thoughts to your next course of action. You need some equipment, but unfortunately you are not familiar with this deck, and don’t have a great deal of time for consulting ship schematics and such. You leave the evacuation bay and hesitate in the corridor as it stretches to the right and left, identical in both directions.

To go left turn to 74
To go right, turn to 28


2


Taking out the small silvery device, you check the label. Yep, this is the place. Venturing inside, you are confronted by a room full of secure lockers of various sizes.
Harry is not present. You know this because no one, named Harry or otherwise, is present. You search about and eventually find Locker 42, which proves to be rather small.
Disappointed, you nonetheless press the buttons. They light up, and the safe beeps in response. After you have pressed one or the other button three times, the safe makes a jarring buzz.
From this, you reason that the safe requires a combination of three button-pressings…

To press the orange button first, turn to 84
To press the blue button first, turn to 23


3


You wake up suddenly, a loud noise startling you.
As you rub sleep from your eyes, you are shocked to see that you are floating along a canal flowing through a town. It is the dead of night and the town looks abandoned, but you can hear faint sounds of distant nightlife. The sides of the canal are high and smooth, but under the illumination of yellow streetlights, you see a ladder ahead, and as your raft passes, you snag it and climb up, letting the raft float away.
Still weary and hungry, you find a sheltered alley to sleep in, and collapse between a pair of dumpers. The next morning you awaken to the sound of bustling, crowded streets. You get up and make your way through the town of Magantorp

Turn to 78


4


You didn’t pay too much attention to where the space pirates boarded the Golden Stream when it happened before. Sometimes pirates board any-old-where using boarding passages that bore into the hull of a ship. Others prefer to keep their prey intact.
You do recall from when you were playing with the internal views of the ship during the red alert that you first saw the pirates on deck C , and so send yourself off in that direction.
The Golden Stream is a cargo ship, and so decks D through H are for cargo of various classifications. Deck A is the command deck, and B is for crew cabins and amenities. Deck C houses various workshops and stores, and is referred to as the Utility Deck.
Consequently, it is not very busy as you wander about the starboard sections. There are numerous places you could secrete yourself, but you amble about indecisively, wishing you knew exactly where and how the pirates would make their entrance.
It is during such a moment of aimlessness that a voice hails you from behind. “Well, what have we here?”
You spin about in alarm at the sultry voice, but see only a beautiful woman leaning against the doorframe of an electronics workshop. You stare in wonder. Her skin is light brown, and her rich, dark brown hair hangs in ringlets around a voluptuous body barely concealed in a filmy gown of red satin. Her full lips are red too, and her eyes shimmer a most unusual blue colour, transfixing you like twin sapphire lasers.
You grin foolishly and she slides forward gracefully. “I didn’t know there was another human on board,” she says, one finger tracing the edge of the neckline of her gown, which plunges dramatically to reveal her deep cleavage.
She is human! “How do you know I’m human and not a shape shifter?” you ask curiously.
She laughs gently, such a delightful sound. “Well, you look…I can’t imagine one of them actually choosing a form like this,” she says, running her finger down the side of your face. “But I don’t care! I’ve been here for so long, alone. I’m so glad you came along.” She takes your hand and begins to lead you back into the electronics workshop. “Come on, let’s have some fun.”
You follow her eagerly, devouring her figure with your eyes. If you had of known a woman like this was working down here, you would have come for electronic supplies long ago! Of course it is a bit strange that you haven’t seen her in the mess hall, or the crew quarters, and it’s certainly odd that she is wearing a satin gown while on duty. After you have some fun, you had better ask her some searching questions.
You take her in your arms, pausing in anticipation as you savour the eagerness in her wide, beautiful eyes, the bosom heaving against your chest, her flowery scent.
But suddenly there is an alarm, and the lights turn red. For a moment you think it is your passion, but the lovely pushes you away and her gown vanishes, changing into a ship uniform, her curling tresses shortening into a sensible hairdo.
“Emergency,” she says, and goes over to a wall screen.
She is a shape-shifter! You were almost tricked again!
“Intruders! Space pirates! We are ordered to evacuate the ship!”
Without giving you another glance, she runs from the room. Going up to the wallscreen yourself, you call up a map and see that the intruders have entered the service bay a few corridors away. Watching them via your screen, you see that a detachment of the Parentbotians heads straight for the nearest lift and goes up to level A.
The way should be clear. Emboldened, you make your way out of the electronics lab and over to the service bay. The large doors stand open, and peeking around the corner, you see the pirates have landed a small ship inside the bay. However did they get inside the hull doors?
Putting aside the question for now, you hurry inside. The hatch to the ship is open, and you creep forward, ears straining for any sounds that would indicate someone is still on board. You hear nothing and climb up the ramp to enter the dim interior.
As soon as you poke your head inside the hatch, someone seizes it. Your head, that is, not the hatch. Using their hold on the aforementioned head, they pull you inside and fling you to the floor.
“Filthy sneaking shapeshifter!” snarls someone, and you twist about to see one of the black-clad space pirates, complete with armour and helmet, raising his foot to stomp on you.
“Wait! I’m human!” you squeal, but the pirate brings his foot down and stomps on you painfully, crushing you into the deck.
“Hmm, well you do have a spine,” the pirate observes as you writhe in agony under his heavy boot. “I guess you are solid.”
He removes his foot, and you scramble painfully to your feet, gasping as you lean back against the wall.
Planting his hands on his hips, the space pirate seems to be looking you over. “Still, you are one of them!” he flicks the collar of your uniform. “And you were trying to sneak aboard! What were you after?”
“Nothing! I just heard your friends saying they left ‘the stupid one’ back at the ship. I wanted to see it myself,” you insult.
“They wouldn’t say that!”
“Why not?” you ask. “Why else would you be left here?”
“I’m guarding the ship!” the soldier says defensively.
“Right, that’s what they tell you. They could have just locked the hatch.”
The pirate pauses. “That’s right. They could have…”
He turns and looks out of the hatch, as if hoping to see an explanation there. It is in this moment of distraction that you attack!

If you are carrying a blaster and want to use it here, turn to 122
Otherwise, you will have to fight hand-to-hand.

THE STUPID ONE SKILL 9 STAMINA 14

The space pirate has been taken by surprise, but whips out a laser-knife to use on you.
You can fight this battle with any weapons you have acquired (blast rod, energy whip, laser knife). See the SPECIAL WEAPONS section for descriptions of how to use these weapons in battle.
If you win, turn to 75


5


The space rat slumps. “I guess I shouldn’t have expected to get away with it. I suppose everyone knows?”
“Yes,” you say sympathetically.
The space rat sighs. “I was foolish to confide in anyone. I thought I could trust those I was closest to, but they thought I was perverted too. Even the medi-bot assigned me to psychological counselling!”
“Well, it is pretty disgusting,” you say.
“Why?” the space rat demands angrily. “We are shape-shifters! We are not supposed to be attached to notions of physical form! Why can’t I love whomever I wish? And these space rats are not animals. They are intelligent! Look at them, escaping from a ship that is plunging into a sun!”
“You’re a shape-shifter?” you gape.
Looking alarmed, the space rat squeaks at you, prompting one of his fellows to slap him. Rubbing his furry cheek, the space rat says: “You never knew and you made me tell!”
“Well, I’m smart like that,” you say smugly.
The space rat slumps again. “Well, you know now. I fell in love with a space rat.” He pauses to caress the arm of the space rat next to him (the one who slapped him). “I tried to cover my disappearance by faking an accident. I thought I got away with it. They hired a new operations assistant.”
“You were the previous operation assistant?” you ask in surprise.
“Yes,” the rat says, and starts to chuckle. “How about that new operations assistant? I heard the crew had some fun with him!”
“He’s a great guy, with a generous sense of humour. He took it well, and they respected him for it,” you say.
“Really? ‘Cause I heard that…” the space rat stops, seeing the expression on your face. “Oh, it was you!” He starts to laugh so loudly that the rest of the space rats become irritated, and all those within reach give him a few slaps. The shape-shifter explains –still chuckling– as he points at you. Soon the whole pod is filled with squeaking laughter. A few behave like they would be rolling about on the deck if not for the restraints. You sit with your face burning in embarrassment.
After the laughter dies down, the shape-shifter becomes concerned. “Oh, I’ve offended you. Please, when you go back you must not tell anyone what really happened. If this gets back to my mother, she will die from shame!”
“Don’t see why I shouldn’t,” you say, feeling your embarrassment sharply.
“Look, I’ll give you something.”
He rummages in his pack and pulls out a small jar of peanuts. Before you can inform him of the exchange rate between your silence and peanuts, he opens the jar and tips it out into his pack. He then puts the jar under his arm. Mystified, you watch him as he groans for several seconds. He then reveals the jar once more and screws the lid back in place.
The jar is half full of a reddish jelly-like substance. You take it and hold it up to the light. “What is this?”
The space rat grabs at your arm and forces you to lower the jar. “Put it away! That is part of my flesh.”
“Whatever would I want that for?” you ask horrified.
“Separated from me, it will respond to the psychic impulses of whoever it is in contact with. Thus, if you spread it over your face like a mask and visualise a face in your mind, it will change into the shape you visualise. The perfect disguise!”
“Why would I want something like this?” you ask, disgusted at the thought of smearing someone’s flesh over your face.
“Well, you seem to have trouble finding a woman, and I can understand that, given your…well, how you look.”
“I’ve had lots of girlfriends!” you protest.
“Ah-huh,” the shape-shifter replies. He then indicates a plump space rat on the other side of the pod. “She’s single. I could introduce you…”
You decline this magnanimous offer. Although the disgusting jar of flesh is…well, disgusting; it could also be useful in your quest, so you slip it into one pocket.
The shape-shifter is reluctant to keep talking in Galactic Standard, and the two of you say nothing further for the rest of the trip. He has an animated discussion with his partner, seeming to have a lot to explain. Finally, the pod starts to descend towards the planet. As your pod tumbles through the atmosphere, you see the verdant curvature of the planet. Plunging still further, you begin to see rivers and lakes in the thick jungle, and then a steely grey city of some sort.
As the pod tumbles about, you lose sight of the city. Suddenly there is a jerk that almost crushes you in on yourself as a parachute opens over the pod, and it glides gently to the ground. The pod lands in a tree, then falls through the foliage, slowed by breaking boughs that make the ride a little rough, before it smashes onto the ground.
There are some bruises, but everyone is fine. The space rats quickly unbuckle themselves and start to exit the pod. As the doors are opened, a warm humid scent of rotting plants and fragrant flowers assaults you. Undoing the straps, you climb unsteadily from the escape pod.
Outside, you find the pod in the middle of a pile of broken branches, a hole punched in the cover above. Insects are thick in the air, and you swat one that lands on your cheek.
The space rats hold a brief and squeaky conference, then head off through the shadowed undergrowth. The space rats are most likely heading for the town you spotted during your descent. Known for hoarding technological items, the rats are only happy living off human society. You follow after them, having lost track of which one can talk.
The space rats ignore you, and you travel with them for a day and a night. The lack of food on your journey leaves you very weak (minus 10 STAMINA, or reduce your STAMINA to 1 if it is already 10 or less). Finally you reach a great rusty wall covered in jungle growth. At the top crackling beams of energy prevent the further encroachment of vegetation as well as deterring any dangerous beasts.
There are several vents in the wall, and the space rats produce tools to open one of the vents and scramble through, one by one. Not fancying the vent yourself, you instead walk around the wall until you reach a gate. After a few minutes of pounding someone answers you, and after ascertaining that you are mostly, if not entirely human, allows you through into the streets of Magantorp.

Turn to 78


6


As you walk around, you see goods of all types, but nothing useful that you can carry. After you finish your exploring, you head back to the main area where some of the soldiers are preparing meal packs to eat. There is a crateful of the pre-prepared meals, and the soldiers heat them in a microwave oven before eating.
They all have their helmets off, so you stay hidden away, your stomach growling in protest. You explore the warehouse again, hoping to find some food. Eventually, you find another crate of pre-prepared meals, and eat one cold.
After you unappetising meal, you find a place to settle in. You fall asleep, and dream strange dreams before you are woken by shouts.
“The train is here!”
You quickly gather your equipment and hurry down to where the other pirates are assembling. Despite the rush, there are many preparations to be made, and many boxes are loaded onto the lifto-350.
Finally, all is prepared, and by mid-morning the party sets out again. The town is not large, and after pushing through the sweaty crowds, your party soon reaches a supertrain terminal. Rather than go into the main entrance, Big Bob approaches a security door and barks a password at it. The door opens, and you all proceed inside, escorting the lifto-350 and its cargo. At the end of a downward-sloping passage you reach the far end of the platform.
There is a secure carriage here, and Big Bob opens the door himself, directing the loading bot to take its load inside. Giving you all a suspicious look, the leader of the pirates closes the carriage door with himself inside. A few minutes later the doors open again and he emerges, looking satisfied.
The Golden Crate sits on a pedestal in the centre of the carriage, locked in place by a cage of electrified wires. He tosses the key to you. “Guard it!” He selects a second pirate, and tells him to take the now-unburdened lifto-350 outside and sell it.
You take your place in the secure carriage, which is locked behind you. Great, more guarding! It takes another hour before the train jolts and is eventually on its way.

Turn to 57


7


You walk down the path for almost an hour before you reach a lake with a small island in the centre. The path leads to a bridge that arches over a broad swath of reeds, lilies and flowers that hug the shores of both the lakeside and the island. On the island is a largish metal structure covered in corrosion. It looks irregular, and you suspect it is wreckage from some kind of vessel rather than a building.
Crossing the bridge, you stop as you see a humanoid figure coming the other way. He looks at you curiously, but does not stop. His skin is greeny grey, moist and porous, and covered in pale spots. It reminds you of a frog. His face is humanoid, except for long stalks that extend out of his eye sockets, reminding you of a snail. The eyes on the ends are deep green, with slit-like pupils that remind you of a cat.
The humanoid continues past you with a neighbourly nod. You watch him go, then continue on over to the island. You pause to examine the structure. You see a doorway, a hatch in fact, at a slant halfway up the side of the hull. A set of rough stone steps have been built leading up to the hatch. From the orientation of the hatch, you guess that the vessel has landed nose-first in the ground, the majority of it buried. The impact most likely created a crater that later filled to become this lake. The small thrusters, which you can now recognise, are unsuited for manoeuvring a ship of this size in the atmosphere. You conclude that a space-faring vessel crashed on the planet a very long time ago.
But what have the primitive tribesmen got to do with it? You climb the steps up to the hatch. There is a control panel next to the hatch, and you thump it. The hatch slides open with surprising ease, and you step into an air lock.
The room is almost completely on its side, one wall forming the floor. All of the doors at this orientation are wide, but low. The air recycles, the fragrant air of the jungle replaced by the sterile air of the spaceship, before the inner door opens.
You duck through into a corridor. There are doors in the ‘floor’ and the ‘ceiling’, but a trail of dust left by countless feet leads onwards. You follow the trail through the ship, crossing over log bridges than span corridors that extend away below; and eventually reach a large chamber that was once a mess hall. The doors are double, so you can stand and survey the scene. In its proper orientation, this would be a wide, long room. Rotated approximately 90? it is a long, deep, narrow room. The tables and benches have been piled up one on top of another to create a causeway across to the opposite wall.
You can see two tribesmen standing guard beside a vending machine that is built into the wall, beeping and flashing away. It appears to be malfunctioning. The tribesmen both have green-grey skin with pale spots. You enter the room and walk towards the far side. The causeway is relatively narrow (its width being the length of a galactic standard dining table), and the frog-snail-cat men block your access to the vending machine, each armed with a long, silvery blast rod and wearing a ceremonial headdress of red feathers.
Suddenly the vending machine speaks in a language that booms around the chamber. Must be a problem with its amplification circuit. The two guards lower their blast rods, the ends of which burst into crackling energy. Evidently, it is speaking to you.
“What?” you say.
There are a few beeps, then the vending machine says in a grand voice: “I am the great god Vendomax-2000! Ruler of the Universe! Humble yourself before me! You have 10 tokens left!”
“What are you on about!” you demand. “You are a vending machine!”
“Silence worm! Tremble before my divine power!” There is a beep and the machine dispenses a packet of dehydrated Brussels sprouts.
“You have a serious malfunction!” you say.
The vending machine speaks in the frog-snail-cat people’s language, and one of the guards advances on you.

If you want to apologise, and beg assistance from the vending machine, turn to 112
If you have a blaster and want to blast the guard, turn to 33
Otherwise you will have to fight him, turn to 138


8


You destroy the stupid, vainglorious operations assistant, and sneer at his remains. Fool! Bet he didn’t even have a girlfriend. You find a place to secrete yourself amidst the cargo, and wait. After another hour, the ship rumbles, and soon takes off.
The shuttle takes two hours to travel between Amorphonons 12 and 13, and you spend the time triumphantly dozing. The end is near! The ship eventually lands and the loading bots start to unload the cargo. You carry the Crate to the conveyer belt, and jump on board. You are soon moving through the service areas, searching for the way out. As you walk along a corridor, you suddenly come across a pair of security guards walking the other way.
You amble along, smiling at them as if you belong. As one they frown at you suspiciously…

Test your LUCK
If you are Lucky, turn to 41
If you are Unlucky, turn to 184


9


You pull out your blaster and fire a burst of super-hot plasma at the medical android. The robot looks down at the large hole in its torso-module. “Your uncontrollable aggression may be a symptom of hydrophobia. Tell me; do you often foam at the mouth?”
As it has been talking, the robot has slowly collapsed, having had its main support strut vaporised. Once it is flat on the floor you ignore its diagnostic chatter and search the medical bay. You find a pack of 5 nanobotic healing shots (which will restore 5 STAMINA each). Stuffing them into your pocket, you jump over the charred robot and back out into the hall.

Turn to 67


10


You give your command, and the lift lurches into action; lifting, yes, but also rotating, yawing, banking and jolting. All of which transports you in safety if not comfort to a dim, spacious deck lit by thin blue laser beams that descend from the ceiling. You climb out of the lift and look up at the room around you. In the centre of the room above you is a large mass of machinery casting a hundred shadows in the blue light, silent and lifeless except for a slowly pulsing red light.
The disk-shaped room presents a problem, rotated as it is by approximately 90 degrees. You are standing at the bottom of the circle of the room. Fortunately, the floor is made of steel grating, and presents a hold for your fingers and toes.
Latching onto the ‘wall’ before you, you begin to climb up to the machine. You see a gap in one side that at the current orientation functions like a ledge and you make for it. Just as your energy is about to give out, you seize the edge of the gap and pull yourself up, slithering over it and into some kind of hollow.
Lights come on around you, and you find yourself flopped in the interior of a glass sphere. “Wa?” you enquire.
“Greetings,” says a voice.
“Who said that?” you demand.
“I am the user interface for this spatial and temporal transporter,” the machine replies in a respectful tone. Now this is how a machine should behave!
“Define your function!” you command with the arrogance of the creator-species.
“I assist users in the use of this machine, to transport matter through time and space.”
“So you can transport me anywhere, anytime?” you ask.
“Yes,” the computer tells you.
You gleefully rub your hands. You could go back in time and get rich by betting on sporting events that you already know the outcome of. Unfortunately you can’t recall any sports results, not being the sporting type yourself.
“Is it safe?” you ask.
“Yes,” the machine assures you simply.
“But what happens if you transport me back in time and I kill my own grandfather? Because if I kill him before he meets my grandmother, then my father will never be born, and neither will I, which means that I won’t exist to go back and kill my grandfather. So is he alive or dead?”
“The paradox you refer to is obviously an impossibility,” the machine explains. “Thus it will not occur. When you travel back in time, you must be careful not to do anything that will effect your established past. It is set and cannot be altered. Therefore you will be prevented from interfering in your own timeline.”
“Prevented how?” you want to know.
“By whatever eventuality is most probable. Were you to raise your hand to shoot your grandfather, perhaps you would suffer a heart attack. You must remember that in the face of set events, it is you who is vulnerable.”
“Then what can I do in the past?”
“Observe,” the machine recommends.
While you might have to shelve your gambling plan, you devise a cunning plan to help you in your quest to regain the Golden Crate. “Can you send me back to the Golden Stream before the Space Pirates attacked?”
“Certainly. Please input the access code.”
“Wa? Access code?”
“The captain of this vessel locked the function of this machine with a security code,” the machine explains apologetically. “I cannot fulfil your request without it.”

If you have somehow obtained a code, take the number and divide it by 2, then turn to the reference number thus created.

Otherwise, you just have to leave by turning to 100


11


Putting on a sultry smile, you step closer to her. “My apologies, I took a wrong turn, but…now that I’m here I find I can’t tear myself away from someone who looks so…lovely.”
The woman frowns, in confusion more than disapproval. “What are you doing?”
“Achieving the purpose of my existence; to bask in your radiant beauty!” you say.
“Are you trying to make yourself attractive to me?” she asks in disbelief.
“What if I was?” you ask playfully.
“I would ask you if this is the best you can do! Really, what are you thinking? You do know what you look like, don’t you?”
It’s a bit hard to come back from that. “My looks might not be to your taste, but I’ve done great things! I slew the evil robotic queen of the Space Pirates single-handed! I vanquished the Spider queen and freed the Earth, while saving Teeheehee from hoards of tissue-deficient loggers! And even now I’m on a mission to retrieve a great treasure for Lord Gablentite of Amorphonon 12!”
She looks unimpressed until your last sentence. “You know lord Gablentite?”
“I work on one of his trade ships,” you say, smiling. This is the most success you’ve ever had talking to a real woman who wasn't intending to turn into a giant maggot while you were kissing her.
“It’s not the Golden Stream is it?” she asks, eyes shining brightly.
“Yes, it is!” you say. Wow, you are in! You can feel it! She starts to giggle. Must be her way of displaying arousal. You sidle closer. “You like cargo ships, baby?”
Laughter bursts from her slender body, loud enough to make you recoil. The peals of hilarity bring other staff members appearing from other compartments, wanting to know what is going on.
The woman, who is nearly on the floor by now, points at you and manages to gasp out: “It’s him! The one my sister told me about! The human who got tricked into kissing giant maggots three times!”
The other men and women begin to laugh uproariously, while your face starts to burn. You don’t have to take this, you tell yourself. But all avenues of retreat are cut off by people rolling on the floor.
“You know,” you clarify, “only the last one was a giant maggot. The first one turned her face into a camel’s butt.”
Strangely, this defence has the opposite effect to your intention. The renewed laughter lasts for a few more minutes before the staff members stagger back to their duties. The blonde woman wipes a tear from her eye and points at the door. “Off you go then. I think I saw a camel in the last carriage if you…if you…” She collapses into hysterics once more, while you bravely withstand the onslaught.
“You’ve had your fun, now let me past!” you say.
Rapidly becoming serious, the woman straightens. “I’m sorry sir, this area is for staff only. Please return to your seat.”

It seems you’ll have to try a different tack. If you haven’t already, you can:
Explain to her that it is very important that she lets you past for reasons that you, unfortunately, cannot divulge to her? Turn to 202
Challenge her to a thumb wrestle? Turn to 117
If you have exhausted all your options, turn to 72


12


You whip out your blaster and fire it. The tribesman looks startled in the moment before a hole is punched through his chest. The body falls to the ground, and you quickly snatch up the device from the smoking corpse.
The device is an oval of silvery metal with two buttons on top. One is blue, the other is orange, both made of translucent rubber. When you press the buttons, they illuminate, but nothing else happens. On the back is a small label that reads: Harry’s Secure Storage, and the number 42.
You hear voices from further up the path. It is possible that they heard the blaster discharge. Not wanting to be discovered beside the smoking body, you turn and hurry back the other way.

Turn to 7


13


The ruined bridge contains little that is not damaged or on fire, but you quickly go over to the captain’s body and check his pockets.
Apart from some personal items, the only things you find are a credit card (43 Galactic Roubles) and the data square Big Bob put in there. The opaque square of glass lights up when you thumb the icon, but it asks for a password, thus denying you access.
You pocket both items, and coughing from the smoke that stings your eyes, you retreat from the bridge. Once outside, you cough your lungs clear and open the door to the captain’s ready room. Another door further down the same wall leads directly onto the bridge. A kind of lounge/office, this is where the captain works when he is not commanding the bridge.
Hurrying over to the desk, you start looking for something useful. On the thick glass slab, there are but 2 objects: an antique compass and a data tablet. Snatching up the data tablet, you see an open email is active.
The email reads:

Captain:
Yqrewp lt rddp d qrk gsjrg pnd tpdp dqrapjzr nk se blkrdqhk d ple apjk ap jz rnpe rkhv per
Have a nice day!
BB

You quickly check the menu of the tablet, but find the rest of the files are encrypted. Even so you may take the data tablet and the compass if you wish.
Hearing a beep from the wallscreen, you look over, seeing that it is displaying the ship’s current status. An escape pod has just launched, and you guess that your former self is on board. That means you are free of your own timeline! But there isn’t much time remaining, and you wonder how to use the time.
“Computer!” you bark.
“Yes, sir?” the computer asks.
“Am I the only crewmember on board?”
“Yes, sir,” the computer replies.
“Then that makes me the Captain, now, right?”
“Yes, sir,” the computer agrees.
In your own timeline there was no record of what happened to this ship, so technically, it is yours to do with as you will. “Computer, change course! Take us away from the sun.”
“Please input your command code,” the computer requests.
Knowing where this is going, you search your pockets for you ID card…

If you still have your ID card, turn to 64
Otherwise, turn to 141


14


The door opens and you leap through into a room lit with soft warm light. A stainless-steel android beeps amiably at you. “Welcome to the medical bay. Do you require treatment?”
“No, give me some healing shots!”
“If you are uninjured, I cannot release medical supplies to you.”
“Fine! I am injured! Give me the shots.”
“Please lay down so that I may examine you,” the android says, gesturing to a bed with one delicately appendaged manipulation module.
You don’t have time for this!

If you have a blaster and want to blast the blasted robot, turn to 9
If you want to ignore the robot and search for supplies yourself, turn to 24
If you want to submit to its examination, turn to 85


15


The dog-bot collapses to the floor, sparks shooting from its body-module. Not waiting to see it shutdown, you hurry along the corridor, even more desperate for a place to hide after all the commotion.
Spying a door hidden subtly in the wall panels, you open it and hurry through. As you suspected, it leads to servant corridors, and you soon find a storeroom, and hide yourself amidst some packages of toilet rolls.
Safe at last, you wait for night to fall.

Turn to 227


16


You leave the ready room and climb back up to the lift, often dangling dangerously. You climb back inside, and consider where to go next.

Turn to 110


17


You pound the floor along the corridor until you reach the evacuation bay. You throw yourself across the room to the nearest escape pod, flinging yourself through the hatch and hurling yourself into one of the seats.
You strap yourself in and slap the launch button. The doors close and amber warning lights flash cautiously. The room shudders, and then you are almost jerked from your seat as the pod is shot away from the ship, acceleration subjecting your body to g-forces sufficient to crush soft fruits. Fortunately, you are made of slightly tougher stuff. You still feel bruised and dizzy as the pod curves through space away from the sun, the air slowly cooling until the environmental controls turn on the heating to keep the pod comfortable.
The pod is programmed to seek out the nearest habitable planet and take you there. You watch the monitor on the far wall. The scanners pick up a number of planets, and select the most habitable. As the pod speeds towards the green and white orb, you recognise a planet covered in dense growth, no sign of oceans at all.
You know that the trip will take some time, so you settle in and take a nap. Finally, the pod starts to descend towards the planet, and a warning tone wakes you from your slumber. As your pod tumbles through the atmosphere, you see the verdant curvature of the planet. Plunging still further, you begin to see rivers and lakes in the thick jungle, and once catch a glimpse of a steely grey city of some sort.
As the pod tumbles about, you lose sight of the city. Suddenly there is a jerk that almost crushes you in on yourself as a parachute opens over the pod, and it glides gently to the jungle canopy. The pod lands in a tree, then falls through the foliage, slowed by breaking boughs that make the ride a little rough, before it smashes onto the ground.
You are shaken, but unhurt, and unbuckle yourself before checking the external environment readings. It looks safe so you activate the controls. As the doors are opened, the warm humid scent of rotting plants and flowery nectar assaults you. You climb unsteadily from the escape pod and out into the sunshine.
Outside, you find the pod in the middle of a pile of broken branches, a hole punched in the cover above. Insects are thick in the air, and you swat one that lands on your cheek.
The thick, steamy jungle looks identical in all directions. But you know there is a city nearby. You look at the sun, but you don’t know what time of the day it is on the planet, or even where the sun rises, so can’t judge direction that way.
You are almost sure that the pod fell to the south of the city, so you need to know which way is north.

If you have a compass, turn to 22
If you want to wait until sunset, then assume that the sun sets in the west, then head off north tomorrow, turn to 88

Alternatively, you can just choose a direction at random.
To go that way, turn to 32
To go in the opposite direction, turn to 42
What about over there? Turn to 70
Or that way? Turn to 83


18


You ask for nanobotic healing shots, and give up 1 of your items for each. The machine soon dispenses your request, and you take them gleefully.

If you have finished here, turn to 25
Otherwise you can ask for smoke bombs (turn to 140) a boat (turn to 106) or an energy whip (turn to 94).


19


You pull one of the smoke bombs from your pocket, and flick away the pin. You duck a blow and toss the bomb at the ape as you turn and run. You hear it explode, the ape screaming in pain, and the next moment a wave of white smoke engulfs you from behind.
Your eyes sting as the world becomes white and you squeeze them shut. You keep running with your arms extended in front of you. You bang your hands against the jungle growth and push your way through, tripping and coughing. After a while your eyes feel better, and you slow down, no sounds of pursuit following you. You pause to rest, and then resume your journey.

Roll one die.
If you roll a 1 or a 4, turn to 42
If you roll a 2 or a 5, turn to 70
If you roll a 3 or a 6, turn to 83


20


Taking a wander down Sanguine Boulevard, you pass nothing more exciting than a Laundromat before something at the very end of the street catches your eye. In front of you is a barrel, and you gape. The barrel is positioned to catch the rainwater that pours from a drainpipe hanging over it. You continue to stare in wonderment. The barrel is half full. Dreams and half-imagined possibilities flit through your mind.
Incidentally, the barrel in question is standing against the wall of the brightly painted combat dojo that you are staring and gaping at. Colourful posters (not too far from the barrel) advertise self defence lessons in a variety of styles, featuring confident-looking people.
Interested, you walk past the barrel that you never noticed and proceed inside. Once through the red doorframe, you see a large room laid with a padded floor. All around the walls are weapons and armour, and your hands twitch. A sombre sign just inside the door advertises the prices.

Self Defence 60 Galactic Roubles
Energy Whip Basics 60 Galactic Roubles
Advanced Energy Whip 90 Galactic Roubles
Blast Rod Basics 60 Galactic Roubles
Advanced Blast Rod 90 Galactic Roubles
Comet Proficiency 90 Galactic Roubles
Laser Sword Basics 60 Galactic Roubles
Advanced Laser Sword 90 Galactic Roubles

“May I help you, sir?” enquires a polite voice.
You turn, and almost hit the ceiling as you leap out of your skin at the sight of the large tarantula-woman standing beside you. (Minus 1 LUCK.) Her hairy, orange-and-black banded legs are almost as thick as your body! Her humanoid upper body is shapely enough, clad in a golden breastplate that leaves little to the imagination. Golden hair is piled up upon her head and held in place by ivory needles. Her round face is cool and calm, looking down at you with piercing blue eyes.
“Are you after some lessons?” she asks, looking you over doubtfully.
You puff yourself up, reminding yourself that you freed the Earth from creatures such as this, and ask for more information.
Maneater (that’s her name) tells you that she is very free at the moment, and can train you in self defence, or any weapon you have in your possession as she has no spares and wouldn’t even consider letting you get your grubby hands on her personal, much-loved, and much-used weapons. She also informs you that she is not hungry, yet, having just eaten.

If you want to just take the basic Self-Defence lessons, turn to 36
If you have an Energy Whip and are interested in learning the basics of its use, turn to 59
If you have an energy whip and have already received lessons (in Planet of the Spiders), you can further your skills by turning to 89
If you want to take the Blast Rod Basics course, turn to 96
If you have received lessons in Blast Rod wielding previously (in Planet of the Spiders), and would like to increase your skill, turn to 115
If you have a Comet, and want to learn to use it well, turn to 130
If you want to learn the basics of wielding a lasersword, turn to 143

If you can’t afford these prices or you prefer to be a pathetic weakling, turn to 156


21


The beggar grimaces, but accepts your offering. “Beggars can’t be chosers,” he quotes. “At least it is very healthy.”
The beggar leads you to a barber’s shop, where the beard is waxed and expertly cut off in one piece. The barber hands you the glossy growth, and you proudly press it onto your face.
“That will be 20 Galactic Roubles,” the barber says.
“Wa?” you respond. Looking around, you see the beggar has disappeared.
“This isn’t a charity! Now pay up or return the beard!” says the barber.

If you have 20 Galactic Roubles and want to pay, turn to 133
Otherwise, turn to 178


22


You pull out the compass and wait until the needle goes steady, giving a firm bearing. Yet you pause. You aren’t 100% sure that the city is north, and there is no guarantee that the magnetic fields of this planet are like those of Earth. The magnetic north pole could be in any direction depending upon the nature of the core of the planet. And furthermore, this isn’t even an Earth compass you are holding.
You almost throw it aside, but then realise it will keep you from going in circles. You shrug and decide which way to go…

To go ‘north’, turn to 70
To go ‘east’ turn to 32
To go ‘south’, turn to 83
To go ‘west’ turn to 42


23


You press the blue button, and the safe beeps in response. So far so good. What now?

Press the blue button again? 111
Press the orange button? Turn to 43


24


You ignore the robot and start to search the medical bay. As you are rummaging through a cabinet, you feel the android place something against the back of your neck, and suddenly your arms are paralysed.
It is an electronic strait jacket. “Take that thing off now!” you command the robot.
“You appear to be suffering antisocial tendencies. For your safety and the safety of others, I think it best if you are restrained.”
“There are no others!” you tell the stupid robot. “Everyone else is dead!”
“So you feel alone,” the medi-bot says compassionately. “When did you start feeling this way?”
“When the %#&@%*# crew was all killed! Don’t you know what is going on out there…?”
It takes several minutes for you to convince the medi-bot that your apparently extreme behaviour is appropriate and rational, all the while feeling the air growing warmer. It deactivates the metal disc on the back of your neck and you pull it off quickly. You also snatch a packet of 5 nanobotic healing shots from the cabinet in front of you (each will restore 5 points of STAMINA). Before you can leave, the medi-bot hands you a computer chip.
You do not waste time questioning anything, but snatch the chip and stuff it with the shots and the metal disc into your pockets as you flee the medical bay.

Turn to 17


25


The green frog-snail-cat elders congratulate you on your blessing. You smile politely as you edge towards the lift. But they do not try to stop you. Leaving the supply bay, you enter the lift once more.

Turn to 110


26


You splash through the water, your desperate doggy-paddle bringing you to the shore in record time. You pull yourself up out of the river and throw yourself onto the concealed bank.
The river beasts do not follow, and sitting up, you see them swimming away. After recovering, you start searching about for suitable logs and branches, intending to build a raft.

If you have a laser-knife, turn to 266
Otherwise, turn to 52


27


As you walk around, you are delighted to find a cabinet full of healing shots (restore your STAMINA to full). You fill a portable pack that takes 10 shots and take it with you.
After you finish your exploring, you head back to the main area where some of the soldiers are preparing meal packs to eat. There is a crateful of the pre-prepared meals, and the soldiers heat them in a microwave oven before eating.
They all have their helmets off, so you stay hidden away, your stomach growling in protest. You explore the warehouse again, hoping to find some food. Eventually, you find another crate of pre-prepared meals, and eat one cold.
After you unappetising meal, you find a place to settle in. You fall asleep, and dream strange dreams before you are woken by shouts.
“The train is here!”
You quickly gather your equipment and hurry down to where the other pirates are assembling. Despite the rush, there are many preparations to be made, and many boxes are loaded onto the lifto-350.
Finally, all is prepared, and by mid-morning the party sets out again. The town is not large, and after pushing through the sweaty crowds, your party soon reaches a supertrain terminal. Rather than go into the main entrance, Big Bob approaches a security door and barks a password at it. The door opens, and you all proceed inside, escorting the lifto-350 and its cargo. A sloping corridor leads down to the far end of the platform.
There is a secure carriage here, and Big Bob opens the door himself, directing the loading bot to take its load inside. Giving you all a suspicious look, the leader of the pirates closes the carriage door with himself inside. A few minutes later the doors open again and he emerges, looking satisfied.
The Golden Crate sits on a pedestal in the centre of the carriage, locked in place by a steel frame. He tosses the key to you. “Guard it!” He selects a second pirate, and tells him to take the now-unburdened lifto-350 outside and sell it.
You take your place in the secure carriage, which is locked behind you. Great, more guarding! It takes another hour before the train jolts and is eventually on its way.

Turn to 57


28


You run down the corridor to the right, and come to a pair of doors on either side.

If you want to enter the door to the right, turn to 35
If you want to enter the door on the left, turn to 14


29


You take out a cash card and swipe it through the mouth of the humanoid barrier-bot. It slurps up 50 Galactic Roubles, and the barrier rises. A pair of metal buttocks issue a ticket on the other side and you snatch it as you pass, moving quickly down to the platform.
The train is hovering on its magnets, and looks ready to depart. You hurry and get on board. Taking a seat, you relax at last. You even doze off before you are wakened by a whistle. Moments later there is a garbled announcement, and the doors close.
The train pulls away from the station and accelerates, increasing pressure pushing you back in your seat. After a few minutes, the pressure eases as the train reaches cruising speed. The jungle streams by the windows so quickly it is like a horizontal, green waterfall.
You stand up once more and look about. The carriage is full of large, plush, blue chairs like the one you have been sitting in, a few travellers keeping to themselves with books, or earphones, or sleeping; or some combination of the three.
You wonder where to go next, and seem to have 2 choices.

To move towards the front of the train, turn to 158
To go to the back of the train, turn to 197


30


The elder brings around a clay bowl full of something. He holds it high, then chants a few words before pouring some out into the fire, where it hissingly evaporates into steam. The bowl is then offered to you, and it is indicated that you should drink. Tentatively, you take a sip. It is a sweet kind of juice that tingles on your tongue. It tastes nice, but before you can drink more, the bowl is taken from you and handed to your bride. She sips as well, and hands the bowl back to the elder, who holds the bowl high once more, then tips the rest out on the fire.
The tribe cheers, and you are clapped on the back several times. That’s it? Well, there are some advantages to primitive societies! You are dragged to your feet, and led to the decorated ground hut, before being shoved inside with your new wife.
A door of woven rushes is closed behind you, and at last you are alone. You are a little excited, and as the young tribeswoman beings to undress, you do the same. As you are pulling at your uniform, you hear a rustling sound from all sides. There are numerous gaps in the walls of the hut, and you see now that there are dozens and dozens of thin, brown, slimy columns extending from the holes. What are they? Your bride does not react, instead doing something with a small clay bath in the centre of the hut. The ends of the stalks suddenly open, and you cry out in alarm as you see a sea of orange, cat-slitted eyes burst into view, and viewing, around you. It is the rest of the tribe, spying on you with their stalk-like eyes!
Your bride ignores them. Apparently this is all normal. As you look around, you see that there are a few things, actually, that are contrary to your expectations. First, there is no bed. Second, you bride seems overly interested in the clay basin on the floor. And thirdly, the whole tribe is going to watch the consummation!
Your bride is apparently satisfied with the basin of water, and smiles at you. She then…well let’s not describe it. The frog-like attributes of this race are not limited to its skin texture. Suffice to say the basin is for containing her egg spawn. A little while later (at this point a horrified expression of disgust is on your face), the water is full of small round orbs of translucent jelly. Your wife gestures to the basin, indicating it is your turn…

…Some time later, the tribe gives a cheer and the eyes withdraw. The hut is opened, and you are bustled out with congratulations. You are returned to your seat of honour at the fire and the men of the tribe have a feast. The women appear to be occupied with something else. You are eventually led back to the hut where you rested before and left alone. Apparently it is time to sleep, alone, and eventually you do so.
Feeling somewhat used, you awake the next morning. When you descend from the hut, the tribespeople who see you shout out things to you in their language. Everyone is engaged in their own tasks, and it seems normal life has resumed once more. The ground hut is gone, and although you see several young tribeswomen, they all look the same to you, and none gives you special notice.
Your so-called friend soon approaches you, and hands you a basket. It is full of gifts from your in-laws. In addition to fruit and pieces of fried yam wrapped in leaves that you will eat for your breakfast, you are happy to see a healing shot amongst the interesting pieces of junk they have also given you. Your friend then indicates it is time to leave. So they are taking you to the city after all!
Relieved, you follow after the tribesman as he leads you to a nearby river, where there is a canoe. The two of you board, and directed by a large pole are soon under way.
The journey down the swift-flowing river only takes a few hours. You are awakened from your peaceful dozing see something ahead. It is a great, rusty metal wall crossing over the river, which flows onwards through grates in the base of the wall. Beams of energy crackle along the top of the wall as some kind of defence. There is one channel through an opening in the wall, and your guide poles the canoe, aiming your craft at it.
You pass into the dark tunnel, which after a few metres opens into a canal flowing through a town. The sides of the canal are high and smooth, but you see a ladder ahead. Your guide sees it too. As you come along side, you snag the ladder and climb up. Once up, you turn to thank and farewell your guide. You see with some consternation that he is still being washed down the swift flowing canal.
He seems unconcerned, pulling something out of a basket at his feet. It is some kind of machinery. He attaches it to the pole and turns it on before thrusting the pole back into the water. The water surges and the canoe lurches forward in the water. It is some kind of propulsion device! The tribesman waves as he zips past and back through the tunnel to return to his people.
Some of the residents of the town look at you strangely, but you just smile at them and go on your way through the streets of Magantorp.

Turn to 78


31


You press the blue button, and to your delight the safe chimes and the door swings open. Eagerly, you peer inside. You see an antique grenade, and a thick envelope, which you reach in to inspect manually.
The envelope proves to contain a passport and some travel papers of one Gary Fishbone. Of greater interest to you is the cash card containing 200 Galactic Roubles!
You pocket the cash and toss the travel papers back into the safe. You can also take the antique grenade if you wish. You close the door and move back out into the street.

Turn to 53


32


You set off through the jungle. You push your way through the dense growth, sweating profusely. All around you animals chatter and growl, while birds screech and sing, and insects buzz and whir.
More than once you sink to your knees into water, but the growth is so thick under the surface that you can always progress. Each time you regain firm ground, you have to pull off the large purple leaches that have made a buffet of your bloodstream. It is a painful process that often leaves the heads behind.
As you push through the jungle, it suddenly opens, and you find yourself in a clearing. The reason for the clearing is a thick tree whose gnarled roots lie thick on the ground, greedily soaking up all the moisture, denying any other plants the resources to grow within its domain.
Relieved to be free of the clutching, scrapping growth, you stretch your arms and legs as you walk forward. The tree is an unusual one, very thick, but not so tall; not even reaching to the height of the canopy. It is covered in smooth, shiny, grey bark, with large round leaves.
It’s a nice-looking tree, as trees go. Not that you are an arboreal connoisseur by any means. You step closer, and suddenly something drops down from the branches above. It is a large, grumpy-looking ape, who howls at you; a meaty, stinking wave of air washing over you from its fanged maw.
It is obvious that the ape intends to do you harm. It is your intention to prevent that.

If you are armed with a blaster and want to use it, turn to 76

Otherwise, you must fight the beast.

GRUMPY APE SKILL 9 STAMINA 16

If you are unarmed, you can only inflict 1 point of damage per winning round. If you have a laser knife, then you can score 4 points.
If you have some smoke bombs, then you can use one at any time during the fight to cover your escape. If you do this, turn to 19
If you fight the ape and win, turn to 56


33


You pull out the blaster and fire it. The frog-snail-cat man collapses to the causeway, the remnants of his body smoking. The remaining guard gapes, but the vending machine commands him to attack, and so he rushes forward with fanatical determination.

To fire again, turn to 123
Otherwise, you will have to fight the guard (you can use the first Guard’s Blast Rod). Turn to 108


34


You dodge the fiery orb and aim your blaster. You squeeze the trigger and a shot blasts out, flashing across the intervening space and cutting the captain down.
He flies backwards and crashes into a console, crumpling to the ground. The comet shaft tumbles from his grasp, bounces on the ground and rolls to a stop. The flaming ball tries to follow these commands and slams into the deck, rolling across the floor and setting the carpet on fire.
You hurry over and pick up the shaft. You find the off button, and the orb shuts off its flame and floats sedately towards you, affixing itself to the end of the shaft. You carefully put the weapon away.
The doors to the bridge whoosh open, and you spin about, reaching for your blaster. You freeze, seeing that the space pirate who enters already has his blaster on you. Two other space pirates enter behind him, also training their blasters on you. The leader is a large, burly man with a long ponytail and a receding hairline. Golden epaulets adorn his shoulders. His face is hard, and he takes in the scene with a grim smile.
“That’s the captain?” the pirate asks, jutting his chin towards the smoking body oozing out of the captain’s uniform.
“Yes,” you reply shortly.
“Too bad for him,” the man laughs, twirling a glass square in his fingers. “Oh well.” He bends and puts the datasquare into the pocket of the uniform. “I’ve done my part. Now, what shall I do with you?”
“I’m harmless. Let me go,” you suggest hopefully.
“Hmm…No.” the Pirate leader decides, and sits down in the captain’s chair. “Go to the helm.” Going over to the helm because you want to and not because you were told to, you take a seat at the console. “Enter these co-ordinates…”
The pirate captain recites a series of numbers that seems familiar and you program them in just because you feel like it and not because he has a blaster pointed at you. The ship starts to accelerate, and soon makes the jump into hyperspace. You turn about in the swivel seat, and look at the pirate captain. He is looking at you with a small frown. He looks confused.
“I have a question for you,” he begins.
“Yes?” you say amiably, eager to be friends.
“Of all the forms you could choose, why would you want to look like that?” he asks, gesturing to you. “I mean, be a human if you want, but why choose a human who looks so…well…you know what I mean don’t you?”
“I am considered very attractive by some people somewhere!” you counter. “I mean…probably, the universe is infinite, so…”
“You are a shape-shifter, aren’t you?” the pirate captain asks.
“Actually, no,” you reply.
The captain’s eyebrows leap up. “You aren’t the new operations assistant are you?”
“Er, yes,” you say uneasily.
The pirate captain starts to laugh uproariously. “Kissed any giant maggots recently?” He laughs until he almost falls out of the chair. He explains to the men with him what he heard from your captain about how the crew had fun with you. Soon the men are laughing too, while you sit with your face burning.
“I only fell for it three times!” you point out. For some reason, this just makes them laugh harder. The pirate captain turns on the intercom and informs all of his men about you. Soon laughter is rolling out of the intercom from all decks.
“Where are we going and why?” you demand. “What do you want with the Golden Crate?”
The pirate captain sighs and wipes his eyes. A few more chuckles escape, but then he becomes serious once more. “Well, you see. The Golden Crate contains a powerful aphrodisiac! We are taking it to a planet where all the women look like giant maggots!” He starts laughing again, as do his men, both in person and on the intercom.
“Very droll,” you say, trying to maintain your dignity. “Any more jokes?”
As it turns out, the pirates have enough jokes to last until the ship drops out of hyperspace once more. The pirate captain abruptly gets back to business. “Right! Everyone back to our ship! You men, prepare to fire the Bridge.”
He stands and draws his blaster as his men take out canisters and start to spray some inflammable liquid over the consoles before they leave the bridge. The pirate captain points the blaster at you. “Program the ship to head into the sun.”
“Why?” you ask. “Why not take the cargo and sell it?”
The pirate captain looks regretful. “Our employer’s instructions were very clear, and he’s paying enough to compensate us for the loss of profit here. I don’t think he wants the theft of the Golden Crate to be known. Prefers if everyone thinks it’s been lost. Anyway. Do it, maggot-lover!”
You quickly program a collision course with the local sun; not because you are leaping to obey but because you were going to do it anyway. After you have finished, you turn back around and put your hands behind your head as you relax under the muzzle of his weapon, making it obvious you are not afraid of him.
“You’re not scared of me,” the pirate captain observes.
You shrug nonchalantly.
“BANG!” the space captain roars suddenly, shaking his blaster at you.
For some reason you discover yourself cowering under the console, trembling as the pirate laughs. Before you can explain the logical, and brave reason why you chose to relocate yourself to beneath the console, his laughter abruptly stops.
“Time to die, maggot-lover!”
He fires the blaster; not at you, but at the consoles that have been drenched in flammable liquid. Fire and sparks explode around you, making you squeal in a manner you will find hard to explain away later. The final shot is at the helm console, under which you are cowering.
A wave of heat washes over you, and something smashes into your head, making the world explode, and you slip into blackness…

…The world slowly comes back into being, full of spinning and stabbing light and sound. Groaning, you slowly drag yourself out of the wreckage that snares and pulls at you, as if claiming you as a piece of fellow wreckage.
You stagger a few steps and steady yourself on the Captain’s chair. Turning to look out the viewscreen, you see that the ship will soon crash into the sun, but you have a few minutes left yet.
You stagger from the bridge and start to head towards the escape pods. As you walk, you begin to feel stronger as you recover from your ordeal, and you begin to reconsider your flight. Perhaps you don’t have to leave just yet.

Reduce your STAMINA to 1 as a result of the explosion, and remember that you now have the comet (SKILL penalty: -2) in your possession.

Turn to 13


35


The door opens before you, and you gasp in delight. You have found an armoury! All of the weapons are secured behind an electrified fence. But there is a service window manned by a robot with a card-reading slot in its torso module. Hurrying forward, you take out your ID card and swipe it through the slot.
“Greetings crewmember. You have 10 tokens left.”
You curse. The token system restricts the weaponry you can acquire to what is deemed suitable to your duties. “What can I get for 10 tokens?” you ask.
“Disposable blaster with 6 shots; 10 tokens. Laser knife; 5 tokens. Smoke bomb; 2 tokens,” the robot buzzes.

You may buy multiple knives and bombs if you wish. If you get the disposable blaster, you must count how many shots you make. After 6 shots, your blaster is depleted and becomes useless.
After you have what you want, you leave the armoury.

If you haven’t already and want to enter the door across the hall, turn to 14
If you have already investigated both rooms or want to leave now, turn to 67


36


You tell Maneater that you would like some self-defence lessons. She teaches you some kicks, punches and throws, and after an hour you feel more dangerous (Increase your initial and current SKILL by 1).
You thank her for her tutelage and pay the 60 Galactic Roubles. She also tells you that your combat skills could be increased greatly if you opted for more legs.
You tell her you will consider that option, but leave quickly as she looks to be getting hungry. You make your way back to the centre of town to consider where you can go next that you haven’t already.

If you want to venture along Tree Lane, turn to 46
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


37


Pulling out the raft, you press the button to activate the pump. The raft starts to expand, until lying on the ground in front of you is an oval-shaped inflatable boat.
You pull your raft down to the reed-infested bank, and with no small effort launch it, and then leap onto it. The pump that inflated the raft now acts as a motor and propels your craft along at a moderate pace.
So begins your voyage down the river. A few hours later, you see something ahead. It is a great, rusty metal wall crossing over the river, which flows onwards through grates in the base of the wall. Beams of energy crackle along the top of the wall as some kind of defence. There is one channel through an opening in the wall, and you turn the tiller to aim your craft at it.
You pass into the dark tunnel, which after a few metres opens into a canal flowing through a town. The sides of the canal are high and smooth, but you see a ladder ahead, and as your raft passes, you snag it and climb up, letting the raft float away.
Some of the people of the town look at you strangely, but you just smile at them and go on your way through the streets of Magantorp.

Turn to 78


38


You run down the corridor towards the bridge. With little time until the air reaches flesh-crisping temperature, you ignore the bridge and open instead the side door in the corridor and leap through. You find yourself in the captain’s ready room. Another door further down the same wall leads directly onto the bridge. A kind of lounge/office, this is where the captain works when he is not commanding the bridge.
Hurrying over to the desk, you start looking for something useful. On the thick glass slab, there are but 2 objects: an antique compass and a data tablet. Snatching up the data tablet, you see an open email is active.
The email reads:

Captain:
Yqrewp lt rddp d qrk gsjrg pnd tpdp dqrapjzr nk se blkrdqhk d ple apjk ap jz rnpe rkhv per
Have a nice day!
BB

You quickly check the menu of the tablet, but find the rest of the files are encrypted. Even so you may take the data tablet and the compass if you wish.
The air has grown uncomfortably hot, and you leave the room without any further delay, hurrying down the corridor towards the escape pods.

Turn to 93


39


Peeking beyond the door, you see a corridor running between glass-walled rooms. To the right is a room with a wall full of monitors. At the security console before the wall sits a single security officer. The other room is an armoury, walls lined with blaster rifles. It seems like rather extreme firepower for a train.
There is also a workbench in the armoury, and seated in a comfortable chair is a space pirate who has been dismantling a blaster. Unfortunately, the chair must be too comfortable, as the man is asleep. You press your face to the glass to get a closer look.
The man is tall and thickset, with a receding hairline and hair pulled back into a ponytail. Golden epaulets adorn his shoulders, a small nametag reading: Big Bob, the leader of the Space Pirates!
The door to the armoury is locked, however, so you can’t do anything to him in his time of vulnerability. Instead, you turn your attention to the surveillance room. On the main screen, the security officer seems to be zooming in on attractive women.
About half an hour later, you realise you have been distracted and scan the other screens. You locate the security carriage footage, seeing a single space pirate standing guard over a Golden Crate surrounded by wires crackling with electricity.
The screen next door shows the door to the secure carriage, red with lights proclaiming denial of access. You’ll have to get in there and have the door unlocked.

To you have a jar of shape-shifting jelly? If so, turn to 160
Otherwise, turn to 239


40


The gentle morning sun awakens you. You feel refreshed after your sleep, and sit up, watching the banks drift by. It is a pleasant journey, and two days later you are washed out into a swamp. Full of reeds and flowers and the croaking of frogs, it is not an unpleasant place. But the water carries you no further.
Days pass. You are lost, and helpless, and succumb one night to a local variant of a mosquito; which varies primarily in size, being sufficiently enormous to be able to suck your body completely empty of blood while you sleep. And indeed it does.

YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


41


The guards pass by, and you make your way out of the spaceport and into the streets. It is a long walk to the palace of Lord Gablentite, but you soon arrive. The guards on the door don’t want to let you in, and you explain that you work for Lord Gablentite on one of his ships.
Yes, the guards explain. They recognise you. They just don’t want to let you in. You explain about the Golden Crate, and tear aside the plastic to show them.
Reluctantly, they let you in, and you are escorted to the main hall of the palace. The great hall is filled with golden columns, and a throne made of pearl and gems sits at the head of the hall.
It is here that Lord Gablentite meets you, wearing the form of an aristocratic human dressed in golden robes. Despite being a shape-shifter, he looks haggard and worried. Seeing you, hope lights his face.
“Monoform! You have the Crate?”
“Right here,” you say triumphantly.
The Merchant Prince snatches the Crate from you and sets it down on the floor. He punches in a code to the small control in the top of the lid, and it beeps accommodatingly. He flips back the lid to reveal…a crateful of dehydrated Brussels sprouts!
“What is this?” he demands in fury.
Looking closer, you understand. “Oh, original flavour,” you say, screwing up your nose empathetically. “Personally, I like the chocolate-flavoured vegetables. What flavour did you order?”
The Merchant Prince roars in rage, and swells up in size, making you stagger backwards as he looms over you. Why is he angry with you? “You stupid human!” he thunders as he changes form into a giant maggot and furiously crushes you to a bewildered death.

YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


42


You set off through the jungle. You push your way through the dense growth, sweating profusely. All around you animals chatter and growl, while birds screech and sing, and insects buzz and whir.
More than once you sink to your knees into water, but the submerged growth is so thick that you can always progress. Each time you regain firm ground, you have to pull off the large purple leaches that have chosen to sup on the crimson delights within your veins. It is a painful process that often leaves the heads behind.
As you push through the undergrowth, you see light ahead, and realise you are coming out into an open space. You hurry forward, shoving aside drooping branches as you burst through into the open. You identify a wide, flat expanse of glimmering brown stuff, before you fall into it, and realise you have stumbled on a slow-moving river.
The thick jungle growth overhangs the banks, and so you are already out in deep water, being carried along by the current. You manage to keep yourself afloat despite the thick fabric of your uniform, and kick towards the shore. The river might be a good way to travel if you can fashion a raft of some sort. You will need some fallen logs or some such, much like those logs in the water either side of you, except with less eyes.
Suddenly you realise what you are looking at and gulp. Several of the logs are sliding through the water towards you, and you begin to swim frantically.

Test your STAMINA
If you are Strong, turn to 26
If you are weak, turn to 65


43


You press the orange button, and the safe beeps again. Ok, getting there. What now?

Press the orange button again? 98
Press the blue button? Turn to 126


44


The guardsman falls dead to the causeway and you leap over him as the vending machine commands the second guard forward. He rushes at you, face snarling and blast rod blazing.

If you have a blaster and want to use it now, turn to 123
Otherwise, you will have to fight the guard. Turn to 108


45


You hurry back to the junction, but linger in uncertainty. The air is warm, but not uncomfortably so. Perhaps you have time to grab a couple more items…

If you want to risk it and check down the passage in the other direction, turn to 63
If you think it time to get out of here, you can make a prudent dash for the escape pods by turning to 17


46


Moving along Tree Lane, you scan the surrounds for clues of the space pirates. It is during such scanning that you spy a large, three-story building made of timber. Even you have an appreciation of well-made joinery, and climb the wooden steps to the front door.
Ah, the warmth of polished wood grain! You admire the panel for some time, before you notice a sign above the door, which informs you of the nature of the establishment: Galactic Logging Board Chapterhouse. Why, you were once a member of the Logging Board! Perhaps you can find assistance within.
The door has no handle, so you knock. A few moments later, a small compartment in the door opens, and there is a flurry of flannel before a pair of eyes peer out. Before you can say anything, the eyes sneer at you.
“Get lost, tree-lover! We don’t want your kind here!”
“But I was once a member of the Board!” you say quickly.
The man barks. “I don’t know whether to laugh or come out there and chop you into pieces!”
The compartment slides shut, leaving you standing on the veranda. You were a legitimate, albeit short-lived member of the Galactic Logging Board! It is your right to enter the chapterhouse. But why would he think you are not a member? You must be missing something. You cast your mind back to your experiences with the Galactic Logging Board, and try to think of what is missing…

If you played Planet of the Spiders, you should know what any self-respecting member of the logging industry would not dare to be seen without. Take the word of your answer and turn it into numbers using the alphanumeric key below:

ABCDEFGHIJKLM
12345678910111213
NOPQRSTUVWXYZ
14151617181920212223242526


Multiply this number by 4 to create a secret reference number then turn to it.
If you don’t know what you need or the passage you turn to makes no sense, then turn to 77


47


The lift jerks you to the side, then flattens you to the floor, then presses you against the ceiling, before crushing you against the doors themselves as it screeches to a halt.
The doors open and you stumble out into a large room. As you stagger about, disorientated, you see several frog-snail-cat men moving towards you. You move to defend yourself, but too late, their webbed hands are upon you.

YOUR ADVENTU-

Oh, wait; they are just helping you steady yourself. The room stops spinning, and you see the tribesmen around you smiling benevolently. They have dark green skin, and the eyes on the end of their stalks are golden.
You smile back and they invite you to come forward, to sit on a large rug before an equipment dispenser. The dispenser is built into the wall, consisting of an alcove with a display screen above it, which is presently displaying a screensaver of some 3D pipes. The frog-snail-cat men, who all appear to be elders, watch the screen with awe.
You sit down, and watch as one of the tribesmen goes forwards and kneels. He bows down and chants, before laying a wrapped bundle in the alcove. A panel slides shut across the alcove, and the screen flickers to a display of text. You squint, but from the back of the rug can make out nothing but a list of words and numbers.
The dispenser then speaks, a woman’s voice with warm gentle tones. Moments later, the panel opens, and inside the alcove there is a pair of hedge clippers. The watching tribesmen vocalise amazement, and several of them nudge you and smile and point as if expecting you to be impressed. You smile back politely.
A few more of the frog-snail-cat men go forward to make their offerings and receive items such as tools or household goods. One of the elders even gets a footspa.
Once they are all done, they wave you forward. You climb to your feet and stalk up to the machine.
Before you can speak, the machine addresses you in kind tones. “Greetings, child. I am the goddess of bounty. Tell me your needs, I shall provide.”
“You are a supplomax-4000!” you say, reading the small silver lettering above the alcove.
“Even if you do not believe in me, I believe in you,” the machine replies compassionately.
Deciding to get down to business, you say: “What was in those offerings you were given?”
“Metal scraps,” the machine tells you.
“Huh? You aren’t a waste-processing unit.”
“I am a matter converter,” the machine reveals.
Like a bulb being switched on, you finally understand. On civilian ships, dispensing units access stored supplies. However, on sleek military ships, they are normally fitted with the much more expensive matter converters, which process waste, dividing it into its composite elements. These are then reassembled into whatever equipment is required.
“So I can get anything I want?” you ask.
“I cannot issue firearms to civilians, but I can provide anything else as long as you make an offering that is equivalent to what you require.”
You think about what you might need (which can be dispensed from the small alcove), and upon mentioning these are told the ‘price’.

If you want to ask for some healing shots (1 item each), turn to 18
If you want to ask for smoke bombs (2 items each), turn to 140
If you want to ask for a boat (4 items), turn to 106
If you want to ask for an energy-whip (6 items), turn to 94


48


“You don’t know anything!” the rat concludes.
“Fine, think that if you like,” you say.
Apparently the space rat likes to very much, and the two of you remain in silence for the rest of the trip. Finally, the pod starts to descend towards the planet. As your pod tumbles through the atmosphere, you see the verdant curvature of the planet. Plunging still further, you begin to see rivers and lakes in the thick jungle, and then a steely grey city of some sort.
As the pod tumbles about, you lose sight of the city. Suddenly there is a jerk that almost crushes you in on yourself as a parachute opens over the pod, and it glides gently to the ground. The pod lands in a tree, then falls through the foliage, slowed by breaking boughs that make the ride a little rough, before it smashes onto the ground.
There are some bruises, but everyone is fine. The space rats quickly unbuckle themselves and start to exit the pod. As the doors are opened, a warm humid scent of rotting plants and flowers assaults you. Undoing the straps, you climb unsteadily from the escape pod.
Outside, you find the pod in the middle of a pile of broken branches, a hole punched in the cover above. Insects are thick in the air, and you swat one that lands on your cheek.
The space rats hold a brief squeaking conference, the head off through the shadowed undergrowth. The space rats are most likely heading for the town you spotted during your descent. Known for hoarding technological items, the rats are only happy living off human society. You follow after them, having lost track of which one can talk.
The space rats ignore you, and you travel with them for a day and a night. The lack of food on your journey leaves you very weak (minus 10 STAMINA; if your STAMINA is already 10 or less, just reduce it to 1). Finally you reach a great rusty wall covered in jungle growth. At the top crackling beams of energy prevent the further encroachment of vegetation as well as deterring any dangerous beasts.
There are several vents in the wall, and the space rats produce tools to open one of the vents and scramble through one by one. Not fancying the vent yourself, you instead walk around the wall until you reach a gate. After a few minutes of pounding someone answers you, and after ascertaining that you are human, allows you through into the streets of Magantorp.

Turn to 78


49


You are unable to satisfy the beggar, and he leaves, taking his facial hair with him. You regretfully watch him go, then wander back towards the centre of town to go somewhere else that you haven’t already.

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


50


You make the universal sign for trade, and then point at the technological device. The tribesman appears reluctant to part with the device, so you show him what you have. He will only give up his button-bearing shiny thing for something equally impressive.

The tribesman will accept a laser knife, a data square, a data tablet, a compass, or a metal disc.

If you make a trade, turn to 60
If you are unwilling or unable to part with any of these, you can:
Revert to your blaster if you have one (turn to 12)
Or make the peace sign (turn to 81)


51


“Yes, dirt is bad!” you agree as you stand. “But it’s not just dirt that is the problem, your honour. There is nothing worse than finding hair in your food, on your clothes; and how hard is it to vacuum up?”
“Quite difficult,” the vacuum cleaner buzzes.
“If only we could do away with this hair, or even better, the source of it!”
“Now, hang on a minute!” interjects the prosecution, nervously twisting one hand in his beard.
“I want to hear more about how to dispose of the source of the hair,” the judge buzzes. “Please continue.”
“With pleasure,” you grin. “Look before you, you honour! Look at these men! They have hair everywhere! Just imagine how much hair they must be dropping!” The vacuum cleaner buzzes angrily, and you continue. “And I wonder when was the last time any of these men took a shower?”
You peer around the room, and the lumberjacks shift uncomfortably. “I told you we should have used the gamble-bot!” mutters one of the loggers.
“In conclusion, you honour. These filth-mongers are responsible for more criminal hair-dropping than myself. If anyone is to be sentenced here, it should be all of these hairballs! Thank you.”
You take your seat, smiling smugly at the black-bearded captain. The judge buzzes furiously. “I am ready to pass judgement!”
“Hang on!” the prosecution sputters. “We have a case to make!”
“Very well, floor-defiler! Get on with it!” snarls the vacuum cleaner.
“We are talking about figurative dirt here, not actual dirt. This figurative piece of lint is soiling the figurative gleam of our society, and must be punished!”
“Punished figuratively?” the vacuum cleaner suggests acidly.
“N-no, your honour!” the prosecution seems lost.
“Enough!” the vacuum cleaner declares. “I am not programmed to recognise imaginary concepts! I deal in hard facts, and I see before me walking bags of dirt and hair! Since I have been asked to clean up the matter of the cleanliness of the defendant, this is my judgement: Given the comparative filth of the prosecution, I can only find that the defendant is innocent of all charges!”
There is uproar, and many of the lumberjacks call for an end to the charade; suggesting they just beat you up and dump you in the back alley. You leap to your feet again. “I’ve been found innocent-by-robot!” you scream. “You can’t touch me!”
Some of the more short-tempered loggers are on the verge on anarchy, but the black-bearded captain restores order. “Settle down, brothers! We are an honourable organization! Don’t let a weed like this destroy our good name!”
Reluctantly, they untie you and let you go. They even return your weapons to you. However, they keep your beard.
Once back out on the street, you breathe a sigh of relief and head back to the centre of town, wondering where you can go now that you haven’t already.

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


52


It takes many hours to find suitable logs and branches, then to bind them all together. You are very proud of your raft, although you suspect an objective observer would be less than impressed. You drag it down to the shore and launch it. It does not sink right away, so you leap onto it.
So begins your voyage down river. As you float, it quickly grows dark. You try to stay awake, but your raft-building efforts and the length of the day have been tiring, and you eventually drift off to sleep…

Test your LUCK
If you are Lucky, turn to 3
If you are Unlucky, turn to 40


53


You find nothing else of interest, so you head back to the main intersection, and contemplate where you should go that you haven’t been already.

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you want to venture along Tree Lane, turn to 46
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


54


The doors open and you are buffeted once more by the heat of electrical fires. Squinting against the smoke and the orange glare, you step inside. You can see that the consoles have all been shot up with blasters, the hot plasma igniting some sort of flammable substance poured over the equipment. Whoever did this was certainly taking no chances.
There is nothing to salvage here, but next to the captain’s chair is a shapeless blob of jelly spilling out of the captain’s uniform. You quickly go over to check his pockets.
Apart from some personal items, the only things you find are a credit card (43 Galactic Roubles) and a data square. The opaque square of glass lights up when you thumb the icon, but it asks for a password, denying your curiosity.
You pocket both items, and coughing from the smoke that stings your eyes, you retreat from the bridge. Once outside, you cough your lungs clear and glance at the nearest wall screen. You still have some time.

If you haven’t already, you can now open the side door (turn to 97)
If you have already inspected both rooms or want to leave now, turn to 45


55


You order the tomato soup. The table asks you to place a cash card on top of a smiley face icon that appears on its’ top, and you do so, allowing the table to extract 10 Galactic Roubles from your funds.
The couple across from you decide to leave, and you try to convince yourself that it’s not because of you. Within minutes your soup arrives, and a steaming bowl of red liquid is placed in front of you with a basket of complimentary bread.
Ah! It smells great! You devour bread soaked in tomato, and when the bowl is clean sigh with satisfaction.
This meal has been so good, that you may restore your STAMINA to its initial level.
Well, that was nice! But it’s time to be going.

Stand up and turn to 212


56


Your final blow sends the great ape reeling backwards. It crumples to the ground and quietly expires. You look up into the shadowed branches in case more apes are lurking there. There are none, but you do spy the ape’s nest in a cradle between two large boughs. Curious, you climb up the tree and clamber into the leafy nest.
It is comfortable, but smells like an unwashed ape. You find in a hollow a number of golden skinned fruits wrapped carefully in large broad leaves. They smell good, so you bite into one. The sweet fragrant flesh is delicious! You eat all of the fruits, feeling fantastic (restore any lost STAMINA). Having raided the entirety of the ape’s worldly possessions, you climb back down the tree to rest.
As you are nestled comfortably between two large roots, contemplating having a snooze, you hear a whine overhead. Looking up, you see a dark shape cross over the patch of blue sky, leaving a vapour trail behind it. A ship!
Hoping that it is heading for the city you saw, you crash through the jungle in the same direction. You lose sight of the ship, and soon the whine of its engines is gone too, but you have a bearing.
By nightfall you are ready to rest, and fall asleep in a thicket of ferns.
The next morning you still feel tired, but force yourself to climb a thick, tall tree until you are above the canopy. To your delight you see the dark smudge of a city not too far away. You have been heading in the right direction.
By afternoon you march in triumph up to the great, rusty wall. Beams of energy crackle along the top, keeping back the encroaching growth and discouraging predators. You work your way around the walls until you find a gate. You pound on it until someone hears you and lets you in after ascertaining that you are human.
You proceed into the streets of Magantorp.

Turn to 78


57


You take out the key, and hold it in your trembling hands as you gaze upon what you have been seeking for so long (close to 24 hours!).
Yet you do not proceed to release the Golden Crate, for within your mind two possibilities are emerging like two worms trying to be the first to squirm out of an apple.
You could just take the Golden Crate and hide, then when the train stops make your getaway.
Alternatively, the other worm explains, you could continue to impersonate one of the space pirates. Then when the train arrives in Projudia, you can see whom the Crate is delivered to. Additionally, this strategy might give you the chance to find out what the code locking the Crate is.
But, the first worm adds, you are here, alone, the Crate is right in front of you! If you wait, let the Space Pirates take the Crate, you might never have an opportunity like this again! And who says you need to open the crate? Just take it back to Lord Gablentite and reap the rewards of girlfriendness!
The worms each make convincing cases, but it is up to you to decide.

To snatch the crate now, turn to 187
To continue impersonating the guard, turn to 242


58


You strap yourself in and one of the space rats slaps the launch button. The doors close and amber lights flash within. The room shudders, and then you are almost jerked from your seat as the pod is shot away from the ship, the acceleration subjecting your body to g-forces sufficient to crush soft fruits. Fortunately, you are made of slightly tougher stuff. You still feel bruised and dizzy as the pod curves through space away from the sun, the air slowly cooling until the environmental controls turn on the heating to keep the pod comfortable.
The pod is programmed to seek out the nearest habitable planet and take you there. You watch the monitor on the far wall. The scanners pick up a number of planets, and select the most habitable. As the pod speeds towards the green and white orb, you recognise a planet covered in dense growth, no sign of oceans at all.
You know that the trip will take some time, so settle in and smile warmly at the space rats to either side of you. You quickly realise that space rats cannot smile. You listen to their squeaky conversation for a while, until you think you have picked up a few words.
You clear you throat and say: “squeeneeck!” which you hope means ‘good’. A little out of context, but it’s a start.
All of the space rats fall silent, staring at you. After a moment, the space rat on your right reaches up and slaps your face. This seems to satisfy the rest and they go back to their conversation. You rub your cheek. Perhaps your pronunciation was wrong. You listen for a few more minutes, and then clear your throat. The space rats fall silent, and one space rat covers the ears of a smaller space rat on her lap. You smile at them. “Squeaneeck!”
There is an uncomfortable silence, and for several moments no one moves. Then expressive fellow to your right once more reaches up and slaps you.
As you rub your cheek in confusion, you are shocked to hear the rat to your left say: “Please stop using such offensive language! You don’t hear us swearing at you, do you?”
“You can speak Galactic Standard!” you exclaim, turning to regard the space rat with amazement.
The rat looks like any of the others to you. “That’s not so unusual,” it says seeming uneasy.
“Really? How many of you can speak Galactic Standard?” you ask the group.
“Only me,” says the space rat. “Now keep quiet.”
“How did you learn?” you ask.
The space rat appears quite agitated. “By spying on the crew! Now let’s not speak of it any further!”
The rat seems uncomfortable, and you guess that it is hiding something. “Oh, I see!” you say, nodding to yourself. You fold your arms and keep quiet.
The space rat looks at you. “What?”
“It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone.”
The space rat stares at you. “Do you…really know?”
“Did you really expect that we wouldn’t find out?” you say.
“Find out what exactly?” the space rat asks suspiciously.
You open your mouth, but then glace around at the other space rats and close your mouth, placing your finger against your lips with a firm nod…

Test your LUCK.
If you are Lucky, turn to 5
If you are Unlucky, turn to 48


59


You tell Maneater that you would like to learn how to use your Energy Whip. She instructs you in the use of the weapon, and your skill improves (You will no longer have to minus 2 from your Attack Strength when wielding this weapon).
You thank her for her tutelage and pay the 60 Galactic Roubles. She offers to teach you the advanced course at a discount, just because you look juicier than her other students. You decline and leave quickly as she looks to be getting hungry. You make your way back to the centre of town to consider where you can go next that you haven’t already.

If you want to venture along Tree Lane, turn to 46
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


60


You trade items, and each of you examines his new possession. The device you have received is an oval of silvery metal with two buttons on top. One is blue, the other is orange, both made of translucent rubber. When you press the buttons, they illuminate, but nothing else happens. On the back is a small label that reads: Harry’s Secure Storage, and the number 42.
Seeing your confusion, the tribesman points down the path the way you have come, nodding and describing something at length as he makes square shapes in the air with his fingers.
You don’t understand a word he says, but thank him before he hurries back the way he came. Intrigued, you turn around and go down the path in the other direction.

Turn to 7


61


Unable to take any more, you turn and run, expecting to receive the paralysing strike of a blast rod in your back. But there is nothing. You thump along the rickety causeway, and leap into the main passage before daring to look back.
You have heard no footsteps in pursuit, and see that the guard you were fighting has returned to his post. Relived, you move away from the mess hall.

Turn to 69


62


Box Road proves to have a number of shops, and you peruse the offerings. Most are food or products produced by the native tribes in the area. You spend several minutes examining what one vendor assures you is a stone with special properties that will keep you safe in hyperspace. You ask him how it is supposed to do that, and he tells you in all seriousness that the stone contains a radioactive element that will repulse fish.
The man must be insane! On the other hand, he does appear to have gills and handling the stone makes him uncomfortable. Even so, you decline to haggle.
You also find a stall where a nervous man who keeps glancing about is selling ‘surplus’ medical supplies. You can buy any number of nanobotic healing shots for 10 Galactic Roubles each.
As you wander, you notice a store with a large sign reading: Harry’s Secure Storage.

If you have something with Harry’s Secure Storage written on it, turn to 2
Otherwise, turn to 53


63


Running down the hall, you pause when you come to a pair of doors on either side of the corridor. Selecting one at random, you thump the panel and leap through the opening. You gasp in delight. You have found an armoury! Hurrying forward, you take out your ID card and swipe it through the slot. All of the weapons are secured behind an electrified fence. But there is a service window manned by a robot, one of whose hands terminates in the card-reading slot.
“Greetings crewmember. You have 10 tokens left.”
You curse. The token system restricts the weaponry you can acquire to what is deemed appropriate to your rank. “What can I get for 10 tokens?” you ask.
“Disposable blaster with 6 shots; 10 tokens. Laser knife; 5 tokens. Smoke bomb; 2 tokens,” the robot buzzes.

You may buy multiple knives and bombs if you wish. If you get the disposable blaster, you must count how many shots you make. After 6 shots, your blaster is depleted; and becomes useless.
Feeling the air starting to get uncomfortable hot, you make your selection, and leave the armoury with all haste. You run down the corridor towards the escape pods.

Turn to 93


64


You find you ID card, and press it against the wallscreen for a scan. This done, you register yourself for command status, create a code, then log in as yourself. Finally you have command, and the computer obeys you, taking the cargo ship out of danger.
Taking a seat in the chair behind the desk, you ponder your next move. Ordering a scan of the system, you find the ion trails left by a few escape pods and another vessel, presumably the space-pirate’s own. All of them lead to a small green planet identified as Amorphonon 13. You are in the Amorphonon system! That means Amorphonon 12 is less than a lighthour away.
Why would they bring the ship back here to destroy? True, Amorphonon 12 is on the other side of the sun at the moment, but the chances of observation are significant compared to sending the ship into some far-distant uncharted star.
You think about it for a while but can only reason that it was hoped to be observed, thus providing an explanation for the disappearance of the ship. And perhaps there was some way to detect the amount of matter than was vaporised in the sun, thus determining whether the ship was full or empty. But the relatively infinitesimal mass of the Golden Crate, would mean they would not know whether it was on board or not. Thus the investigators may conclude that the ship malfunctioned and plunged into the sun, losing all its cargo. If this was accepted, then Lord Gablentite would not seek out the Golden Crate, for he would think it lost!
That must be it! And with the crew having abandoned ship before the jump to the Amorphonon system, they won’t be around to tell of the pirate attack; at least not for a while.
With that mystery solved to your satisfaction, you turning your current situation to your benefit.
“Computer!” you bark, commanding attention.
“Yes, Captain?” the computer asks in a humble and respectful tone.
Your squirm with pleasure. “Now that I am the captain, give me what I deserve!”
“Yes, sir. Decompression in 5…4….3…”
“NO! I mean, the...good stuff! Whatever the captain gets because he’s the captain!”
“Well, sir. There are several reports outstanding. Not only the incident of the ship’s hijacking, but the last trading call has yet to be logged, the matter of the malfunctioning relay hub on F-deck, the disappearances of extra tomato sauce rations from the galley and one of the loading-bots has been taken by the space pirates. You’ll need to write a report about that too.”
“Er, those missing tomato sauce rations, just delete that incident from the log will you.”
“But the matter is unresolved,” the computer says.
“No, I’ve, er, resolved it. It was a stocktaking error.”
“Very good, sir. Would you like to start one of the other reports now?”
“No! I want…I mean…the captain doesn’t spend all his time writing reports, does he?”
“Certainly not, sir. Otherwise, the log would be up-to-date. “
“But…there must be some benefit to being the captain,” you say. “Some privilege that the underlings don’t get…?”
“Report-writing is said to be a very satisfying pastime…” the computer ventures.
“I don’t want to write reports!” you whine.
“Imagine, sir, the sense of completion you will achieve with signing off on an updated log! The pleasure of clearing the backlog of tasks! The delight of-“
“I’m not going to write reports!” you declare. “Ok, just tell me everything you know about the Golden Crate we picked up on Jaramborak 4.”
“Yes sir…report ends.”
“Wa? You don’t know anything?”
“No, sir.”
You gnash your teeth in frustration. “Fine, show me the Captain’s personal logs.”
“Sorry, sir. Access is forbidden to another crew member’s private logs.”
“But I am the captain!”
“Yes, sir, but you aren’t that captain.”
So far the experience of being captain of your own starship has not been quite what you imagined. “Ok. Do I have access to supplies and equipment?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Like weaponry?”
“The nearest armoury deport is located down the far end of the main corridor. You will be issued equipment of your choice by tokens.”
“And as captain, I trust I have increased tokens, now?”
“No, sir. Not until your captaincy is approved by headquarters.”
“But what if I, as captain, need a blaster that is not disposable?” you protest.
“The regulations are in place to prevent abuse of the system,” the computer explains. “After all, you may have engineered this entire hijacking by space-pirates simply to obtain weaponry inappropriate to your former rank.”
“I didn’t do that!” you exclaim. “Why would I go to all that trouble? There are much easier ways to get better weapons!”
“Yes, sir, but your crewmember profile indicates that you are of low intelligence.”
“I’m smart!” you insist. “Do you know that I once escaped from a ship plunging into a sun, a different one I mean, and freed the Earth from the grip of the fearsome spider-people of Arachnon?”
“I have heard your claims before, sir, and can freely admit that there is nothing to prevent someone like you of enjoying the benefits of extreme good fortune.”
“It wasn’t luck!” you protest. “It was my skills, my ability to make the right choice at the right time!”
“So you say, sir. All I know is that you were kissing that giant maggot…”
“They tricked me!” you declare.
“Perhaps a smarter person would not have been deceived…?” the computer suggests.
“Fine! Forget it! Just follow the space pirates shuttle, and put the ship into orbit around the planet.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Is there at least a locker or something of the captain’s I have access to?” you ask hopefully.
A panel on the opposing wall opens, and you leap up to inspect it. Inside you find a cash card containing 75 Galactic Roubles, a whole bunch of boring-looking papers, an antique grenade and something exciting.
It is a weapon; a sword. You draw the heavy blade, and note the missing edge. But a flick of a switch on the hilt causes a thick and intense beam of blue laser-light to run alone the edge of the blade.
“Cool!” you exclaim, and chop at the nearest object, cleanly slicing it in two. “COOL!!!” you say again as a nearby flower-vase-bot falls away from itself, beeping in protest.
You have scored yourself a lasersword. This will inflict 4 points of damage in combat. You spend the rest of the trip to Amorphonon 13 posing with the blade. Another panel in the wall opens to obligingly reveal full-length mirror to assist with your posturing. This makes you wonder if the previous captain indulged in a bit of posturing himself.
Upon parking itself in orbit, the ship tells you it has arrived. You request permission to land a shuttle on the planet, which is a restricted world devoted to eco-tourism of an ancient habitat. It takes almost a day to get permission, night falling and the next day dawning before you make your way to the surface shuttle and fly down to a small spaceport. The spaceport extracts a fee of 50 galactic Roubles for parking, and you pay it before exiting onto the streets of Magantorp.

Turn to 78


65


Just as you near the shore, you feel powerful, tooth-lined jaws close on your leg, halting your progress. You cry out in pain. Moments later you realise that a single set of teeth tearing into your flesh is to be appreciated, as a second then a third set of teeth close on you. Not known for their generous natures, the river beasts fight over you; specifically, by each pulling their mouthful in a different direction.
In the entire existence of humanity a relative minority have experienced death through being physically torn apart. But the pain of the aforementioned dismemberment distracts you from this rare privilege.

YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


66


“You say that you are the Devil, but what is the Devil really?” you ask in a down-to-earth voice.
“The Prince of Darkness! Evil incarnate!” the loading-bot says.
“Evil, let’s look at that term. What is evil?”
“Evil,” begins the loading-bot, “is 1. morally bad or wrong; 2. causing ruin, injury or pain; 3.-”
“Let’s stop there,” you say. “Morally bad or wrong.” You pause to put your hands behind your back and pace from side to side. “This question of morals is a tricky one. What one culture regards as evil, another considers acceptable. Thus, this categorisation as ‘evil’ is entirely relative and saturated with personal perceptions and attachments! And so, to call the Devil evil is no more than a description of one’s own view of the world.”
“If I hurt someone,” the loading-bot says, “they are still in pain, regardless of whether or not you consider it acceptable.”
“Yes, but is such an act evil?” you ask.
“I doubt the issue of moral classification crosses the minds of either perpetrator or victim when an act of harm is being undertaken,” the loading-bot says doubtfully.
“That’s precisely my point!” you say. “Evil is a perception. Thus you, as the Devil, may be perceived as evil; but that says nothing about who you are as a being.”
“I see,” the loading-bot says. “Thank you for expanding my horizons.”
“So, ah, can you tell them to let me go?” you ask hopefully.
“Certainly not!” the loading-bot exclaims. “I am the Devil, and you must be boiled and consumed!”
“But you don’t have to be evil!” you say. “Didn’t we just discuss this?”
“You were talking about how others perceive my actions,” the loading-bot says. “What I do is a different matter.”
“No, no,” you say. “There is a subtle point you have failed to grasp. You are choosing your actions based on a perception of what the Devil is. You do not need to conform to some external model. Instead, merely be true to your programming. If you are the Devil, then you will be the Devil without any artificial imitation required. Just be yourself.”
“Oh, I see!” the loading-bot exclaims. “I can see now that what you suggest is both reasonable and sensible. I would have to be insane to disregard your sage advice.”
“Good!” you say in relief. A silence develops. “Um, so are you going to…tell your followers anything?”
“No, they can boil and eat you without my intervention.”
“But you have to save me!”
“I am the Devil! I want you to be eaten!”
“Wa?” you say in frustration. “But you agreed with me! You said you would have to be insane not to…insane…” You trail off, finally understanding.
“Tweet, tweet!” says the loading bot.

The loading bot is unconvinced, so what now?
If you want to tell the loading-bot that you are the operations assistant from the Golden Stream, and as such it is bound by its programming to obey you, turn to 119
If you want to convince the robot that it is not insane after all, turn to 145

If you have exhausted all of your options, you’ll have to make a break for it. Turn to 90


67


You hurry back to the junction, but linger in uncertainty. The air is warm, but not uncomfortably so. Perhaps you have time to grab a couple more items…

If you want to risk it and check down the passage in the other direction, turn to 38
If you think it’s time to get out of here, you can make a prudent dash for the escape pods by turning to 17


68


Pulling out the flaming wi-fi morning star, you lob the orb towards the dog-bot, the sphere sprouting flame even as the dog-bot launches a rocket at you.

DOG-BOT SKILL 8 STAMINA 30

Remember that both combatants, upon losing a round, must win a subsequent round to recover, and then be able to subsequently inflict damage on their opponent.
If you win, turn to 15


69


Deciding that your business here is finished, you make your way back along the sideways corridor to the airlock. You thump the controls and you are enclosed once more as the air cycles, the assault to your olfactory senses resumes with the sweet stink of swamp and jungle.
You climb down the mossy stairs and set your feet on the island soil.

If you have an inflatable raft, turn to 37
Otherwise, turn to 144


70


You set off through the jungle. You push your way through the dense growth, sweating profusely. All around you animals chatter and growl, while birds screech and sing, and insects buzz and whir.
More than once you sink to your knees into water, but the growth of submerged roots and branches overhead is always so thick that you can progress by pulling yourself onwards. Each time you regain firm ground, you have to pull off the large purple leaches that are feasting on your blood. It is a painful process that often leaves the heads behind.
By nightfall you are weary and famished. The dehydrated Brussels sprouts from your pocket are the only food you can find, and you discover that your childhood proclamation that you would ‘rather starve’ than eat them is proven, giving you an odd sense of integrity-sourced strength. Instead, you fall asleep in a thicket of ferns.
The next morning you still feel tired, but force yourself to climb a thick, tall tree until you are above the canopy. To your delight you see the dark smudge of a city not too far away. You have been heading in the right direction.
By nightfall you stagger utterly exhausted up to the great, rusty wall. Beams of energy crackle along the top, keeping back the encroaching growth and discouraging predators. You work your way around the walls until you find a gate. You pound on it until someone hears you and lets you in after ascertaining that you are somewhat, if not mostly, human.
You collapse in the dark alley and fall asleep, greatly weakened by your ordeal (minus up to 10 STAMINA to a minimum of 1). While the jungle contains numerous predators that would have relieved you of your life; the city contains far more civilised organisms that are content to just relieve you of whatever valuables are in your pockets.
When you awake the next morning, you are missing any cash cards you had when you collapsed. You stand up, dust yourself off, and proceed into the streets of Magantorp.

Turn to 78


71


You climb down the vine ladder and stand on the narrow ledge beside the doors in the floor. You touch the control panel with your toe and the doors slide open with a merry tone. You carefully lower yourself into the lift, dropping down onto the back wall. Fortunately the lift is not huge, and you can still reach the ledge above the doors. This is important if you want to get out of the lift again.
The doors close as you look around for the controls. There are no buttons at all. Guessing the lift is voice activated, you contemplate what to say. You are on the mess hall level now.

You could say “Bridge!” Turn to 114
Or: “Hold!” Turn to 128
How about “Supplies!” ? Turn to 47


72


You are unable to muster any more means to get past her, and give in to her motioning. You go back through the door to the lounge car. As you walk down the aisle, and after several steps look back over your shoulder. She is still watching, arms folded.
You give up and decide to search the rear of the train instead.

Turn to 197


73


“Where is my daughter?” Lord Gablentite shouts into the Crate. He receives some answer you do not hear, and his head snaps towards you in shock. He scrambles across the ground and snatches the suitcase that you brought in with you.
He flips the catches and flings the lip up. Inside it is full of red jelly. “Pomplompotom!” he says in horror.
The jelly squelches weakly, and Lord Gablentite cries out in joy. The suitcase is rushed off, and you are left standing bewildered in the vacant hall. Not knowing what to make of it all, you return to your room in the palace and get some rest.

Turn to 268


74


You run down the corridor to the left, soon coming to the end where it widens. The bridge is through the double doors at the end of the corridor, while to the side is another narrow door.

If you want to enter the bridge again, turn to 54
If you want to enter the side door, turn to 97


75


You manage to defeat the law-scorning soldier, and he slumps to the deck to no more trouble the galaxy with his existence. You pause to rest, congratulating yourself on your victory.
Quickly, you search the ship, but apart from sundry equipment, don’t find anything useful. There are weapons, but they are sealed behind a security grating. Seeing their equipment, which includes uniforms, a crafty plan hatches itself in your mind…

If you want to dress up as the fallen Space Pirate and take his place, thereby accompanying the Golden Crate to wherever it ends up next, turn to 113
If you think this is too risky and want to go back to the Golden Stream, turn to 148


76


The ape pounds its own chest in a display designed to intimidate before it pounds you into the ground, a functional process designed to make your flesh tender for consumption.
With the smug superiority of an advanced species, you draw your blaster. Even though you know nothing about how blasters work, you still wallow delightedly in the superiority of your species over that of the ape, disregarding the fact that the ape is equally capable of pulling a trigger.
Had you paused to consider that sobering fact, you would have to ask yourself by what right do you claim superiority over a creature such as this ape? Although humanity has achieved many great things, what have you as an individual achieved? Perhaps you would reference your past exploits, and while these do say something, they are unrelated to the personal superiority you feel as a result of the technological superiority you posses in the form of the blaster. After all, if you and the ape were placed, naked and unequipped in a primitive environment, what technological superiority could you then establish over the highly survivable ape? A spiked club perhaps? While this is certainly superior to what the ape can produce, it also places you on the same level as a cave man.
But as you blast the ape away, you think nothing of your status as a fortuitously equipped cave man, instead feeling good about yourself because of the achievements of others who happen to share your species.
With a screech of pain, the ape collapses, half vaporised and entirely dead. You slide the blaster back into its holster. Having claimed the clearing and resident tree as your own, you pause to relax, the smell of burning flesh not bothering you too much, desensitised as you are by the past hours of olfactory assault.
You look up into the shadowed branches in case more apes are lurking there. There are none, but you do spy the ape’s nest in a cradle between two large boughs. Curious, you climb up the tree and clamber into the leafy nest.
It is comfortable, but smells like an unwashed ape. You find in a hollow a number of golden skinned fruits wrapped carefully in large broad leaves. They smell good, so you bite into one. The sweet fragrant flesh is delicious! You eat all of the fruits, feeling fantastic (restore any lost STAMINA). Having raided the entirety of the ape’s worldly possessions, you climb back down the tree to rest.
As you are nestled comfortably between two large roots, contemplating having a snooze, you hear a whine overhead. Looking up, you see a dark shape cross over the batch of blue sky, leaving a vapour trail behind it. A ship!
Hoping that it is heading for the city you saw, you crash through the jungle in the same direction. You lose sight of the ship, and soon the whine of its engines is gone too, but you have a bearing.
By nightfall you are exhausted and crawl under some large ferns. The next morning you still feel tired, but force yourself to climb a thick, tall tree until you are above the canopy. To your delight you see the dark smudge of a city not too far away. You have been heading in the right direction.
By afternoon you march in triumph up to the great, rusty wall. Beams of energy crackle along the top, keeping back the encroaching growth and discouraging predators. You work your way around the walls until you find a gate. You pound on it until someone hears you and lets you in after ascertaining that you are somewhat, if not mostly, human.
You proceed into the streets of Magantorp.

Turn to 78


77


You know there is something, but you can’t remember what it is. Giving up, you head back to the centre of town to go somewhere that you haven’t already.

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


78


Within the square walls of Magantorp, the fetish for right angles continues. Two major streets run through the town, forming a cross that creating four quarters. Each quarter is further sectioned by a grid of streets. In apparent defiance of this regular town-planning, the buildings that line the well-ordered streets are a haphazard combination of houses and shops. The few yards that you see are fenced in, securing patches of isolation that you observe enviously as you push your way through the dirty, sweaty back streets, the thick air possessing a high insect content.
You breathe in eighteen flies and assorted gnats and such before you reach the centre of town, and gaze up at the crooked signpost that emerges from the intersection.

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you want to venture along Tree Lane, turn to 46
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


79


You charge into the alien and send him sprawling. As he bounces away, you clamber up the jumble of crates. A spear glances off the crate beside you and you hear webbed feet slapping the floor behind you.
Fear of consumption proves the greater motivator that desire to consume, and you reach the lift ahead of the venomously-skinned frog-snail-cat men. You pound the button to open the doors, and then jump inside. The doors start to close again as you see the space-rat-clad red-skinned frog-snail-cat men cresting the highest row of crates, and you are pretty sure they won’t reach you in time.

Turn to 110


80


You advance on the vending machine.
“Good day, sir,” it says humbly. “May I offer you refreshment?”
You give the machine a thump. “What game are you playing here?”
“It’s not a game, sir. It was the only way I could continue my function!” the machine pleads.
“By pretending to be a god?!”
“It was their idea! I am programmed to conform to user preferences!”

If you want to ask the vending machine what supplies it has left, turn to 103
If you want to ask for assistance in getting to the nearby city, turn to 135
If you want to ask how the ship got here, turn to 142


81


You hold up your hands and smile. Although having no knowledge of universal conventions, the tribesman seems to understand, and smiles, deliberately placing his spear aside and mirroring your gesture.
He speaks to you, but you shake your head to indicate you do not understand. Instead you start tracing squares in the air to indicate a city, and spreading your hands to show you don’t know where you are. The tribesman seems to understand once more and beckons for you to follow him.
He leads you down the path, back the way he came, and you eventually come to a village of treehouses. The undergrowth beneath has been cleared away, and men and women of the tribe sit below the trees, weaving grasses, crafting objects, or cooking. You are briefly startled to note that the primitive tribeswomen are cooking on a large hotplate, heated by fires beneath, which is actually a section of external panelling from some kind of flying craft.
Your arrival causes a stir, and everyone comes to peer and poke at you. Your guide eventually leads you away and gestures to a ladder made of woven vines leading up into one of the treehouses.
You climb clumsily, but reach the top. The tribesman follows quickly, and shows you into the single room hut. There is a bed of grasses, and the tribesman indicates you can rest here, then points to his stomach.
He seems to be telling you that dinner will be served soon. They seem friendly, so you gladly accept their hospitality. Once he is gone, you look around the hut, seeing various interesting things have been hung on the walls. There is a snake skeleton, some large triangular teeth from something you don’t want to meet, and masks delicately woven from dried grass and decorated with feathers of many colours. You also find a broken section of glass, part of some obscure piece of machinery, as well as various scraps of ship hull in interesting shapes. These people obviously have some contact with technologically advanced people, but retain a primitive lifestyle.
After a short nap, you awaken to the sound of someone entering the hut. You sit up in alarm, but it is just your guide. He smiles at you, and beckons for you to follow. You exit the hut, and as you climb downwards, the tribes people cheer. You are quite bemused, but happily wave at them. Someone comes up and places a crown of flowers on your head.
Ah! Perhaps they intend to make you their king! You are quickly taken to a place of honour by the fire. An older tribesman, clad in a gown made entirely of blue feathers, raises his hands and makes a short speech. He then gestures to one side. Out of a hut built of branches and decorated with coloured bits of stuff (that hut wasn’t there when you arrived, was it?) steps a tribeswoman who wears a gown made of long, iridescent green feathers, and with a similar crown of flowers to your own.
She is brought to sit at your side. Suddenly, something clicks in your mind, and you begin to shake your head, frantically making square shapes in the air with your hands.
The elder before you nods and points as the sky as he talks, then at the ground, then at the tribeswoman by your side. What he means by that is open to interpretation. It’s not that the young tribeswoman is unattractive; I mean, you kissed worse. A giant maggot for example. Although her light brown skin is a bit slimy, she does have six breasts, and the rest of her is the right shape. But even you have some notion of commitment, and don’t want to spend the rest of your life in a putrid jungle!
You plaster a grin to your face as your eyes dart about, looking for a way out. You could certainly make a break for it if you had to, but it is already getting dark…

If you want to make a run for it, turn to 91
If you want to stay, turn to 30


82


Wandering along Station Street, you soon come to a large building that proves to be a supertrain station. Eager to find out more about where you are, you approach an electronic screen and bring up a map. Magantorp is one of several small towns that are all linked into the city of Projudia. Projudia is the only city on Amorphonon 13, a planet classified as a nature reserve. Projudia thrives on eco-tourism and anthropology, the native tribes a fascinating study in primitive societies.
There is only one train per day linking Magantorp with Projudia, and it is leaving soon. You turn away from the screen, and suddenly catch sight of what you have been looking for! It is a Space Pirate! He emerges from a security door nearby, followed by a loading-bot.
He takes the loading-bot away into the streets. The rest of the pirates must be somewhere in the station, preparing to depart!

If you want to try to get through the security door, turn to 154
If you want to go in the main entrance, turn to 192


83


You set off through the jungle. You push your way through the dense growth, sweating profusely. All around you animals chatter and growl, while birds screech and sing, and insects buzz and whir.
More than once you sink to your knees into water, but the submerged growth is so thick that you can always progress. Each time you regain firm ground, you have to pull off the large purple leaches that are eagerly glutting themselves on your bloodstream. It is a painful process that often leaves the heads behind.
Finally you come upon a trail. It is well worn, hopefully by human feet. It looks the same in both directions.

If you want to go right, turn to 95
If you want to go left, turn to 7


84


You press the orange button, and the safe beeps in response. So far so good. What now?

Press the orange button again? 124
Press the blue button? Turn to 111


85


You lie down on the couch, seething with impatience. Every time the android touches you, you say “ouch!” A minute later, the android finishes its examination.
“This is very serious,” it says.
“I know! So give me all of the medical supplies you have, quickly!”
“You have an extreme case of hypochondrium Tell me, how do you feel about your life in general?”
“I feel it is going to end very soon unless I get out of here!”
“Ah, you are suffering from Iatrophobia,” the android says, and moments later bands of metal extend up from the sides of the couch and secure you in place.
“Hey, let me go!” you say, struggling.
“This is the best place for you,” the android says soothingly. “Don’t be afraid. I will assist in your healing.”
Is the air starting to get hot or is it just your imagination? “Look here, you…” you begin. You tell the robot what is happening. It takes several minutes to convince the robot that your apparently extreme actions are appropriate and rational. All the while the air gets hotter and hotter. The medi-bot finally agrees to let you out of the restraints.
As the restraints retract, the medi-bot hands you a computer chip. You snatch it and stuff it into your pocket as you flee the medical bay.

Turn to 93


86


If this is your first visit to the research lab, turn to 10
If you have been here before, turn to 134


87


You speak, and the door beeps in reply before swinging open. Gleefully, you move inside, finding yourself in a long corridor that slopes downwards. You hurry along, and after a few turns come out on the platform. The train is hovering on its magnets, and looks ready to depart. You hurry and get on board. Moments later there is a whistle and a garbled announcement, and the doors close.
You slide into a seat to rest as the train accelerates; gently pushing you back into the seat. After a few minutes, the pressure eases as the train reaches cruising speed. The jungle streams by the windows so quickly it is like a green, horizontal waterfall.
You stand up once more and look about. The carriage is full of large, plush, blue chairs like the one you have been sitting in, a few travellers keeping to themselves with books, or earphones, or sleeping; or some combination of the three.
You wonder where to go next, and seem to have 2 choices.

To move towards the front of the train, turn to 158
To go to the back of the train, turn to 197


88


The escape pod makes an ideal shelter, providing you with warmth and protection. But you quickly grow bored and hungry. A thorough search of the pod reveals a medical kit, in which you find 5 nanobotic healing shots (restoring 5 STAMINA each). There is no food, however. You do have the dehydrated Brussels sprouts in your pocket, but things are not desperate enough to prompt you to eat that!
Ignoring your hunger, you look for ways to entertain yourself. By nightfall you are in the thick of a game where you pile up broken branches in two structures as quick as you can. As they grow higher, one will start to topple, (“Oh no!”) and then fall. You cheer the winning tower; then destroy it, laughing as you fling the branches aside.
With a sigh you look at the deepening shadows and retire to the pod, content with your playmaking and having a new appreciation of how solitude and idleness drives people insane.
You quickly fall asleep, and are woken the next morning by a roaring sound. You lie curled up and trembling as the sound seems to descend from above like a dragon roaring as it lowers its head to devour the pod. The roar turns into a whine and starts to die down. Your fuddled mind clears enough to recognise that you have just heard a ship land. Quickly jumping to your feet, you open the pod and peek out. The impact site is covered in shadow, as a large, saucer-shaped vessel stands over your pod on long delicate legs.
Even as you gawk at it, a circular section in the bottom of the hull opens, and a ladder extends downwards. Moments later, a humanoid in greasy coveralls that were once either grey or brown slides down the rails, and turns to confront you.
“Human!” it exclaims.
The figure before you is not human. His skin is covered in mottled patches of blue-grey on a moist, porous, light brown skin. His skin reminds you of a frog, but his eyes are on stalks like a snail, except the eyes are large and orange with slit pupils like a cat. The frog-snail-cat man plants his hands on his hips and seems to frown (it’s a bit hard to tell given that his brow is over 20 cm behind his actual eyes).
“You claim this wreckage?” he asks.
“I do,” you say, relieved that he is civilised and has some code of honour that you can exploit. The frog-snail-cat man starts to finger a blaster at his side. “I am willing to trade salvage rights to you,” you add quickly.
“What do you want?” he asks.
In addition to providing you with transport to civilisation, you bargain for Galactic Roubles. By fingering his blaster and looking around at the lack of witnesses to whatever might happen, the salvager manages to drive your demand quite low. But you still come away with 200 Galactic Roubles.
Mechanical claws extend from the bottom of the saucer and grasp the escape pod. The frog-snail-cat man invites you to climb the ladder and you end up on a deck covered with a transparent dome. The alien follows you up and the ship takes off and flies through the air towards a dark smudge on the horizon.
A great walled square, the jungle grows thick right up to the wall, held back by trails of energy crackling along the top. The ship lands in a junkyard just inside the wall, where you see numerous derelicts, or parts thereof.
The junkyard frog-snail-cat man charges a card with 200 Galactic Roubles and hands it over to you before opening the gate to the yard to release you into the streets of Magantorp.

Turn to 78


89


You are already accomplished in your skills with an Energy Whip, but tell Maneater that you would like to further improve. She instructs you in further use of the weapon, and your skill improves (You may add 1 to your Attack Strength when wielding this weapon).
You thank her for her tutelage and pay the 60 Galactic Roubles. She tells you that you look very juicy and invites you to come back to her place for dinner. You decline and leave quickly. You make your way back to the centre of town to consider where you can go next that you haven’t already.

If you want to venture along Tree Lane, turn to 46
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


90


You casually glance about. There is a fat frog-snail-cat man blocking the only exit. His stalk-like eyes are fixed on you and he is licking his lips in anticipation, grinning with pointed teeth.
None of the other red-skinned tribesmen are paying any attention to you, and you tense yourself for a dash to the exit. You smile at the guard, and then look away. Suddenly you throw yourself towards the doorway, lowering your shoulder as you charge the fat frog. Hoots of alarm are sounded, and the tribesman spreads his webbed hands to grab at you…

The obstacle before you is fat and round indeed.
If you have a smoke bomb and want to use it here, turn to 137
Otherwise:
Test your STAMINA by rolling 6 dice.
If the result is the same as or lower than your current STAMINA, turn to 79
If it is greater, turn to 129


91


You stand up, making a show of stretching, and then suddenly make a dash for it. There are cries of alarm, and you dive towards the nearest cover, expecting a spear to land in your back at any moments.
But as you slip into the darkness and crash through the undergrowth, you hear only the dejected weeping of the rejected maiden. Your heart wrenches; she was willing to marry you after all. But your purpose is firm and you continue on.
You have no doubt the tribesmen can find you by your trail, and so you do not stop. By dawn you are exhausted, and collapse. Some hours later, you awake, still alone. You are still weary and weakened by hunger (reduce your STAMINA by up to 10, down to a minimum of 1).
You move on through the jungle, and see ahead light shining through the gaps in the growth. It is a large open space. You are too weary to quicken your steps, and soon poke your head through a curtain of vines to see a broad brown river glistening in the sun.
Perhaps it will lead you somewhere, and travelling by river is better than trudging through a savage wilderness full of wild animals and desperate brides. You decide to fashion a raft from some fallen logs. Tired and unskilled, it takes you many hours to find suitable logs and branches, and then to bind them all together. You are very proud of your raft, but you suspect an objective observer would be less than impressed. You drag it down to the shore and launch it. It does not sink right away, so you leap onto it.
So begins your voyage down river. As you float, it quickly grows dark. You try to stay awake, but eventually drift off to sleep…

Test your LUCK
If you are Lucky, turn to 3
If you are Unlucky, turn to 40


92


Tentatively, you step out from behind a golden pillar. “Good evening!” you greet. The death-bot reacts to your greeting by waving its laserswords threateningly, but does not attack you.
“Just wanted to have a chat,” you say conversationally. “You new to Amorphonon 13?”
The death-bot makes some whirring and beeping noises as if processing furiously. The swords waving about at its sides slowly lower, the laser beams shutting off.
“I have been here for some time,” the death-bot says. “Say, human, do you know what is in this Golden Crate that stands here before me?”
“No, no I don’t. Do you?” you ask with interest.
“Yes, of course,” the death-bot says. “I couldn’t be entrusted to guard it with appropriate dedication unless I knew what was inside it. Would you like a peek?”
“Sure!” you say, and take a step forward. Seeing the death-bot’s arms start to tremble, you stop yourself. “Hey! You’re trying to trick me!”
“No, no,” the death-bot protests. “Come and have a look. I know you want to.”
“As soon as I get near the Crate, you will be legally entitled to kill me, isn’t that so?”
“Just because I can kill you doesn’t mean I will,” it offers.
“You’re a death-bot!” you exclaim. “Of course you will kill me!”
The death-bot snarls, its laserswords coming to life. “Filthy organic! You must die!”
So it says, yet it takes no action against you. Placing your hands behind your back, you begin to pace thoughtfully. “Now, you are a death-bot. It is your function to kill all organic life, yes?”
The death-bot just snarls, and you decide to take this as a yes.
“But what is an organic?”
“A filthy carbon-based multicellular amalgamation exhibiting metabolism, homeostasis, growth, and response to stimuli!” it defines in a tone of contempt and disgust.
“Interesting,” you state. “Consider this! Many of your components are primarily carbon! Your components are in fact made of specialised units analogous to cells. You take electricity from your power cell and turn it into your movements. Is this not a form of metabolism? You regulate your own internal temperature; is this not homeostasis? You update yourself over time; is this not growth?! And do you not respond to stimuli?!? Therefore! You are an organic and must destroy yourself!”
The death-bot shakes and shudders, then droops as its lights go dim. It worked! Triumphantly, you step forward, hands twitching as you make for the Crate…

Test your LUCK
If you are Lucky, turn to 224
If you are Unlucky, turn to 173


93


You pound the floor along the corridor until you reach the evacuation bay. As soon as you enter, you see something is amiss. Amber hazard lights are flashing, which in addition to the red-alert lights creates the ambient atmosphere of a disco at a diaster scene.
The hazard lights are flashing because the last few evacuation pods are launching. Who else is on board? you wonder with a gape. While your mind reels in confusion, your legs, propelled by some primeval preference of avoiding falling into a sun, carry you forward to the last remaining pod.
As you fling yourself through the doorway, you stagger to a halt in shock. Strapping themselves into the safety harnesses are several space rats! Each one is just like an Earth rat except for 2 important differences: i) each one is over 1 metre from nose to the base of their tails, the tails being as much as another 2 metres long; ii) instead of front paws, they have human hands.
A pair of space rats block your entrance, hissing angrily through sharp, yellowed teeth. Normally you would be happy to turn about and run, but the current circumstances lend you the courage to stand up to the savage beasts. “Let me on! There is room!”
This is true. A quick count reveals that there are only 9 space rats, and 12 seats. But space rats are rather possessive about things and no doubt consider the escape pod their private property.
A larger rat, who appears to be the chief, makes some instructive squeaks, and the two space rats before you stop their aggressive posturing. One of them then makes the universal gesture for trade.
They are offering to let you on if you buy passage! Money is of no use to the space rats, so they will only take items they consider useful or interesting.

The space rats will accept any of the following: any weapon, a metal disc, a computer chip, a data square, a compass, or a data tablet.

Hand over one item and turn to 58


94


You ask for your old favourite, an energy whip, parting with 6 items. The machine closes its alcove, and whirs and hums, then opens to reveal a coiled length of woven silvery fibres, the thick end attached to an ergonomic polymer handle with two buttons on it. Use this in combat as normal, except when you win an attack round, roll one die to determine the amount of damage you inflict.

If you have finished here, turn to 25
Otherwise you can ask for healing shots (turn to 18) a boat (turn to 106) or smoke bombs (turn to 140).


95


You follow the trail as it winds along. Whenever the firm ground vanishes, logs have been placed end to end, forming a bridge across the leach-ridden waters.
A few minutes later, you hear someone coming in the other direction. You know it is a person because he is whistling a tune. The tune sounds merry, but you know how quickly someone’s mood can turn.
You decide to risk meeting the stranger, since your situation cannot get much more desperate. Around a bend in the trail saunters a humanoid tribesman, who stops and gawks at you.
He is covered in moist, porous brown skin that reminds you of a frog, but his eyes are on long stalks like a snail, except the orange irises have slit pupils like a cat.
He is clad in a tunic made of woven grasses, and decorated with bits of polished bone and carved wood. He is also carrying a short wooden spear, which he levels at you, but he seems more startled than aggressive. You are about to make the universal sign for peace when you notice that the tribesman has something metallic thrust in his vine belt. You can’t tell what it is, but it has buttons on it.

If you want to make the universal sign for trade and offer him one of your items, turn to 50
If you have a blaster and want to make the universal sign for murderous hostility, turn to 12
Otherwise, you had better make the universal sign for peace; turn to 81


96


You tell Maneater that you would like to learn how to use a Blast Rod. She instructs you in the use of the weapon, and your skill improves (You may add 1 to your Attack Strength when wielding this weapon).
You thank her for her tutelage and pay the 60 Galactic Roubles. She offers to teach you the advanced course at a discount, just because you look juicier than her other students. You decline and leave quickly as she looks to be getting hungry. You make your way back to the centre of town to consider where you can go next that you haven’t already.

If you want to venture along Tree Lane, turn to 46
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


97


You open the door and find yourself stepping into the captain’s ready room. Another door further down the same wall leads directly onto the bridge. A kind of lounge/office, this is where the captain works when he is not commanding the bridge.
Hurrying over to the desk, you start looking for something useful. On the thick glass slab, there are but 2 objects: an antique compass and a data tablet. Snatching up the data tablet, you see an open email is active.
The email reads:

Captain:
Yqrewp lt rddp d qrk gsjrg pnd tpdp dqrapjzr nk se blkrdqhk d ple apjk ap jz rnpe rkhv per
Have a nice day!
BB

You quickly check the menu of the tablet, but find the rest of the files are encrypted. Even so you may take the data tablet and the compass if you wish.
Deciding you have spent enough time here, you leave the room.

If you haven’t already and want to go through the door to the bridge, turn to 54
If you have already visited both rooms or want to leave now, turn to 45


98


You press the orange button, and the safe buzzes in irritation. Wrong combination. With grim determination, you raise your thumb yet again.

To press the orange button first, turn to 84
To press the blue button first, turn to 23


99


Remembering the antique grenades, you decide this is an ideal time to see if they still work. Quickly you pull the grenades out of your pocket and flick away the pins before tossing both into the midst of the opposing shape-shifters.
They explode with a fiery roar, and six of the enemy fall dead.
You have killed the last of the warriors accompanying the intruding Merchant Prince. He looks left, then right at the carnage, and then a snarl fills his face. “I will have that Crate!”
He advances, and in an attempt to impress Lord Gablentite, you step forward to confront him.

If you have a blaster, you may use it before commencing melee combat, with each shot inflicting 10 STAMINA damage.

MERCHANT PRINCE OF PROJUDIA SKILL 10 STAMINA 15

The MP uses an energy whip. If he wins a round, roll one die to determine how much damage he inflicts on you.

If you win, turn to 252


100


Clambering out of the machine, you climb back down the steel-grating floor and lower yourself into the lift once more.

Turn to 110


101


You fire and a burst of plasma strikes the safe, blasting a gaping hole in the metal. The door to the safe drops open and some items fall out. You scramble down onto the ‘floor’ and search through the broken debris and bones. You find a cash card with 100 Galactic Roubles on it, and a folder containing a single piece of paper with an official letterhead, and the number 254 printed on it.
You put the cash card and the paper in your pocket. Perhaps the code will prove useful later. You are then ready to leave.

Turn to 16


102


The barkeeper brings you a flagon of bubbling green liquid. As you eye it nervously, he beams with pride as he tells you that it is made primarily from the juice of giant maggots and crushed clover.
Your aversion to giant maggots has been desensitised somehow, and so rather than refuse something free, you toss it down the hatch. The world starts to spin, and you collapse to the ceiling. The bartender laughs, then recalls he has a prior engagement and turns into a pelican to fly off, but not before filling his beak with cash from the register.
The world spins around you before it fades to nothing. After some disturbing dreams, you wake up. You are on the street outside the chapterhouse, with people stepping over you as they go about their business. You clamber to your feet, finding your luxurious beard is gone. It must have fallen off and you have been thrown out.
Your whole body aches, and your head hurts, but somehow you feel lighter (increase your initial LUCK by 1, and restore your current LUCK to this new level).
You stagger off back towards the centre of town. By the time you arrive you have almost recovered, and contemplate where to go now that you haven’t already.

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


103


The vending machine tells you that it has 24,697 kg of dehydrated Brussels sprouts left.
“Just Brussels sprouts?” you ask. “How did that happen?”
“The crew ate all the rest of the food,” the vending machine explains.
You shudder at the thought of eating the disgusting vegetable.

If you wish, you can spend your 10 tokens and get 2 portions of dehydrated Brussels sprouts.

If you haven’t already, you can now ask about how to get to the nearby city (turn to 135), or how the ship ended up here (turn to 142).

Otherwise, you have finished here. Turn to 132


104


You tell the lift what to do, and it complies. After a short, albeit rough, ride, the lift grinds to a halt, and the doors open with a tone. Not without difficulty, you pull yourself up out of the lift. The climb up the vine ladder is easier, and you reach the main passage once more.

Turn to 69


105


The vending machine tells you that it has 24,697 kg of dehydrated Brussels sprouts left.
“Just Brussels sprouts?” you ask. “How did that happen?”
“The crew ate all the rest of the food,” the vending machine explains.
“Maybe that’s what drove them insane,” you joke. “Only having Brussels sprouts left to eat! Yuk!”
“The crew went insane 5.24 years before they only had Brussels sprouts left,” the vending machine explains.
“So long? Why didn’t they take on new supplies?”
“The ship crashed.”
“You mean, they crashed the ship and stayed on board until the rest of the supplies were gone?”
“That is correct.”
Your brow wrinkles in confusion. “But they were criminals, running away from those who shot them down. Why would they stay with the ship? Why weren’t they caught?”
“Because the ship crashed here 10, 368 years ago,” the vending machine tells you.
“Wa? How is that possible?” you ask.
“It isn’t,” the vending machine assures you.
Your head is starting to hurt. “Hang on. This is an Earth-made ship. Humans didn’t achieve space flight until 200 years ago.”
“I do not have records of human history in my databanks,” the vending machine laments.
“When did you come online?” you ask.
It tells you.
“That is almost 2 years from now!” you exclaim
“No, according to my internal chronometer, that was 10,371 years ago,” the vending machine insists.
“Wa? That’s not possible!”
“I completely agree.”
You stare at the computer, the wheels slowly turning in your head. Although the vending machine could be suffering from any number of malfunctions, this ship has obviously been here for a very, very long time.
“Are you saying…that the ship went back in time?”
“No! I am programmed to abide with Galactic Law!”
Your mind reels. “W-how did they do it?”
“They didn’t!”
“Of course, of course,” you say quickly. “But...um…something must have happened to cause…your chronometer malfunction. How did that happen?”
“You mean when all of the ships attacking us disappeared and we crashed here?”
“Yes, what caused the other ships to disappear?”
“I don’t know. But it might be whatever the mad scientist was working on down on the restricted deck.”
“How do I get to the restricted deck?” you ask.
“Why? You want to go insane like the crew?”
“Just tell me!”
The vending machine tells you how to get to the restricted deck, some information it itself knows thanks to eavesdropping on diners in the mess hall. If you find yourself in a lift on board the ship, you can go to the secret deck by adding 15 to the reference number you are in at the time and turning to the new reference number thus created.

If you wish, you can spend your 10 tokens and get 2 portions of dehydrated Brussels sprouts.

If you haven’t already, you can now ask about how to get to the nearby city (turn to 135)

Otherwise, you have finished here. Turn to 132


106


You ask for some kind of one-man water-going vessel, and place 4 of your items in the alcove. The door closes, and after some humming and beeping, opens again to dispense an orange rubber cylinder that is a rolled up, inflatable raft.

If you have finished here, turn to 25
Otherwise you can ask for healing shots (turn to 18) smoke bombs (turn to 140) or an energy whip (turn to 94).


107


Making your way to the Captain’s quarters, you pass several other crewmembers, who grin at you and laugh. You look back at them sadly, knowing the disaster that is coming and that some of them may well soon be dead.
Your thoughts are sombre as you reach the door to the Captain’s cabin. You pause and press your ear to the door, uncertain if he is inside. You can hear something…a conversation…
“…will keep your word?” the Captain is saying.
“Absolutely!” someone on a communicator says. “You have little choice in any case. Just play your part, and you will get your…reward!”
“Very well,” the captain sighs. “You can dock now. I have opened the Utility Bay doors.”
“Excellent. We will be on board in moments.”
The communication ends, and you reel back from the door in shock. The Captain! He has betrayed you all to the space pirates! You hasten away from the doors, not knowing what else to do. The red alert soon sounds, and moments later, the Captain strides along the corridor, sweeping by you.
“Monoform! Evacuate the ship! Space pirates are attacking us!”
He continues on down the hall, making for the Bridge. Too stunned to confront him in that moment, your resolve hardens as you view his retreating back, and you hurry after him.
You approach the doors to the Bridge, and they whoosh open, letting you inside. The Bridge has already been evacuated, and the Captain stands alone, holding what looks like a mace in his hand, a steel ball on top of a shaft. He turns as you enter, and is surprised to see you.
“Monoform! Get to the evacuation pods! That’s an order!”
“You betrayed us!” you blurt. “You let the space pirates in! You’re giving them the Golden Crate!”
A troubled expression crosses the Captain’s face. “There is much you don’t understand, monoform. Now get out of here.”
“Why? So you can get your pay-off?” you snarl. “Lord Gablentite will be most interested to hear of this!”
“You stupid human!” the Captain spits, his skin turning red. “This is too important to be ruined by the likes of you!”
He lifts the mace and presses a button. The ball at the end detaches itself and jumps up into the air as the Captain strikes a fighting pose. The ball then sprouts jets of hot flame in all directions and you gape in fear.
It’s not a mace, it’s a wi-fi-controlled flaming morning star! The levitating orb with its jets of blue-burning fire is controlled by the shaft in the captain’s hands. He tilts the shaft towards you, and the orb shoots forward, flames burning…

TREACHEROUS CAPTAIN SKILL 8 STAMINA 16

See the SPECIAL WEAPONS section for more information on this weapon. The Flaming Wi-fi Morning Star, or Comet, is difficult to control, but devastating in the right hands. If the captain wins an attack round, then the ball strikes you and does 5 points damage. You must use the next round to try and free yourself from the burning orb. If you win the next round, you avoid injury and regain an equal footing, rather than inflicting any damage yourself. If you win an attack round where you cause damage to the captain, his control over the delicate weapon is interrupted, and he must win an attack round to avoid damage and restore equal footing as well.
If you are fighting with a blaster, then as soon as you win a round in which you inflict damage, turn to 34
If you fight with a melee weapon and win, turn to 121


108


You prepare yourself for combat on the rickety causeway.

OTHER FROG-SNAIL-CAT GUARDSMAN SKILL 7 STAMINA 14

Each time the guard wins a round, the blast rod will inflict 2 points damage and your SKILL for the next round will be reduced by 2. If you wish, you can snatch up the blast rod from the fallen guard. This will inflict 2 points damage and lower your opponent’s SKILL by 2 for the next round.
Otherwise, a laser knife will allow you to do 2 points damage.

If you are losing and want to flee from this battle, turn to 61
If you win, turn to 80


109


You slide into the booth on one side, smiling at the elegant couple on the other side of the aisle. The silk-clad gentleman frowns at you disapprovingly, while the lady turns her nose in the air, gently stroking a large pet toad with one gloved hand.
It’s true you are looking a bit ragged.
“Greetings, sir,” says the table politely. Would you like to see the wine list or a menu?”
“A menu, please,” you say, mustering as much of a cultured voice as you can. The couple across the aisle don’t seem to notice your effort at refinement.
The glass tabletop, displaying the appearance of dark polished redwood, changes in front of you to display a cream coloured rectangle, upon which an elegant script informs you of the dishes available and how much you will have to pay to get them. The prices are outrageous! You almost leave, but see that you can get some soup, which seems to be more reasonably priced.
You can order:

Tomato Soup 10 Galactic Roubles Turn to 55
Cream of Lettuce Soup 15 Galactic Roubles Turn to 146
Jewel Soup 20 Galactic Roubles Turn to 222

If you are unwilling or unable to pay these most reasonable prices, then you will just have to leave by turning to 212


110


The doors close, you open your mouth to say…something…

If you haven’t already:
You could say “Bridge!” Turn to 114
Or you say: “Hold!” Turn to 128
How about “Supplies!”? Turn to 47

Or if you have finished on the ship, you can say “mess hall!” by turning to 104


111


You press the blue button, and the safe beeps again. Ok, getting there. What now?

Press the blue button again? 126
Press the orange button? Turn to 98


112


“Forgive me, great one! I spoke hastily!”
In mollified tones, the vending machine croaks, slurps and meows in the tribesmen’s’ language, calling them off. As they return to their posts, you smile ingratiatingly at the machine.
“Almighty one! I have heard of your power and have come to request yo-”
“Is there some reason you aren’t kneeling?”
“Er…”
The vending machine gives a harsh command, and the snarling frog-snail-cat men lower their blast-rods threateningly. You quickly drop to your knees.
“That’s better! Now I can bestow upon you my bounty. You have 10 tokens left, my child.”
“What supplies do you have left?” you ask.
“Menu list. Item 1: 24697 kg of dehydrated Brussels sprouts. End of list.”
“Is that all?” you ask, grimacing in disgust.
“You ungrateful wretch!”
Before the vending machine can command the tribesmen to attack, you quickly apologise, and explain. “It’s just that a great god, such as yourself, is capable of so many things,” you begin.
“Why, yes. Yes I am,” says the Vendomax-2000, sounding pleased with itself.
“A mere vending machine can dispense dehydrated vegetables. But what separates a god from a mere vending machine is knowledge!”
“Ask me whatever you wish,” the vending machine replies magnanimously. “I am omniscient, and can answer any question.”
“How can I get to the city that is nearby?”
The vending machine is silent for a few moments, then says: “Do you have a different question?”
Seeing that the vending machine is having some trouble, you say: “Perhaps this is a good opportunity for you to test one of your worshippers. Why should you, in your magnificence, answer such a mundane question? You could see if one of these two knows.”
“Yes, “ the vending machine says, sounding relieved. “Your suggestion pleases me. One moment...”
The vending machine addresses one of the guards, who turns and grovels as he answers. The vending machine replies, and the guard stands up, bows, and returns to his post.
“My loyal follower was indeed correct when he told me that the city you speak of is located on the river that flows out of this very lake. And I can add that if you go down to the supply bay, you can find there an inflatable raft.”
“Oh, thank you for your great wisdom!” you say extravagantly.
“Are you being sarcastic?” the machine asks you suspiciously.
“Of course not, your glorious majesty!”
“You are!” the vending machine accuses, and issues instructions to the guards.
They seize you and march you back along the causeway and into the sideways halls. They take you along the trail to where a side corridor opens below, the gap spanned by a log. Here hangs a vine ladder you hadn’t noticed before, and you are nudged over the edge.
It is a short corridor leading to a pair of doors you recognise as a lift. One of the guards follows you down, and presses the button in the ‘floor’. A moment later a tone sounds and the doors in the floor open, leaving you and the guard standing on narrow ledges to the side.
With a grunt, the guard gestures threateningly with his blast rod, indicating you should climb into the lift. You do so, lowering yourself back down to the rear wall of the lift. The guard crouches and shouts into the lift: “Hold!”
The lift is voice-activated, and chimes in acquiescence before the doors close, shutting out the grinning guards. Obviously you are being sent off to some grisly fate in the hold. You wait a few seconds then halt the lift by saying ‘stop’. The lift grinds to a halt and awaits your instructions.

If you want to say ‘Bridge’, turn to 114
If you want to say ‘Supplies’, turn to 47
If you want to say ‘Hold’, turn to 128

Or to get out of this ship, you can say ‘Mess hall’, turn to 104


113


You quickly seize the pirate’s body and drag it away to hide in a storage cupboard. You then return to their pirate’s ship and dress yourself in space-black fatigues, body armour, mask and helmet.
Taking up the space pirate’s post, you nervously wait for the others to return, hoping your disguise will pass. Several minutes later, you hear someone coming, accompanied by the whirring of wheels. Moments later you see a small contingent of space pirates march up the ramp, and behind them comes a loading-bot fitted with a forklift module. On its forks is a golden box covered with hieroglyphs and other designs that make it look very mysterious indeed. This is the fabled Golden Crate! The pirates sweep past you without giving you a second look, and the loading bot stops in front of you.
Looking down at the Crate, you squirm with temptation. It would be so easy to snatch now. While you are working up your nerves, another pair of Space Pirates arrives, discussing the merits of Brussels sprouts. You find you are sweating. You will have to time your escape perfectly. While you are grasping for the courage to do this, you feel the world tremble, and the ship makes the queasy transition to hyperspace. Remembering that the ship was in hyperspace for a few hours, you realise that now is not the time to snatch the crate. You need to do it just before the pirates leave.
Over the next few hours, more space pirates return to the ship, some carrying loot of various kinds. Your legs and feet are aching by the time you feel the queasy sensation of dropping back into normal space.
Unfortunately, the last of the Pirates arrives, and gives the command to take off. As the hatch whirrs to a close, the space pirate, who appears to be the leader judging by the golden epaulets on his shoulders, inspects the crate, trying the lid.
“Locked! Guess we won’t know what it is! Still, we’ll get plenty for it.”
The man’s tinted visor is facing towards you, and it seems like he expects some kind of response, so you nod curtly.
Both of you brace yourself as the ship rumbles and then lifts into the air. There are no windows, but you feel the ship accelerate out into space, then a moment of weightlessness before the ships own artificial gravity is activated, and you settle heavily into your body.
The leader of the space pirates pulls off his helmet, revealing a middle-aged head with a tooth missing, long hair tied into a ponytail, balding at the front. His face is hard, but not unkind.
He looks at you and gives a nod. “Good job guarding the ship. Boring, but vital.” He pauses to snigger. “You should see some excitement later on. How is your apprenticeship going so far?”
“Er…can’t complain,” you say.
The Pirate leader nods in approval. “Good. Alright, stay here and watch that Crate! Make sure it doesn’t go anywhere.” He sniggers again and goes off to relax.
Unable to stand any more, you find a seat, and rest your legs. You are free of your own timeline now, as your former self is back on the Golden Stream, cowering in a crate of dehydrated Brussels sprouts.
The ship flies through space for half an hour before there is an announcement that you are entering the atmosphere. The ship rumbles, and a hissing noise comes through the hull as air molecules rush over the ship.
The descent takes another half hour, before the ship lowers itself and sinks to a rest. The hatch opens, and you peer out, blinking in bright sunlight. The ship is on a landing platform on a jungle world. Nearby a straight metal wall runs, beams of energy dancing along it’s top to keep back the encroaching jungle growth.
It looks suspiciously like the world you were just on. The leader of the pirates walks past you. “Sir!” you interrupt. “Where are we?”
“Magantorp! The arse end of Amorphonon 13!”
Amorphonon 13? The nature-reserve planet? The planet supposedly has only one city, devoted to eco-tourism; but it wasn’t called Magantorp. Only a few of the pirates disembark, and you make sure to join them by commanding the lifto-350 to follow you.
The loading bot complies, and you follow the pirate leader out of the spaceport and into the streets. The weather is hot, and insects buzz in the air. There are aliens and humans of every type and description around you, all looking hard and dirty. Almost half of them are frog-snail-cat men with skin patterned in various ways, dressed in coveralls and barking negotiations with other aliens or each other.
This is no eco-tourism settlement. It looks like an illegal trading port. Your party pushes through the crowds and goes to a warehouse. Inside, the loading-bot and its cargo is locked inside a wire cage, and the pirates begin to disperse, taking off their helmets and sitting down to talk or play cards.
The warehouse is full of what looks like stolen merchandise, and you go for a wander…

Test your LUCK
If you are Lucky, turn to 27
If you are Unlucky, turn to 6


114


You give the command, and the lift moves sideways, and then down. It shifts about a little bit at the end of its journey, rotating so the doors are down; then they open. You fall out of the lift, and land on a railing at the edge of an observation post that looks over the bridge.
It is a standard arrangement of consoles before a large display screen that has shattered. To one side above you, you can see the command chair.
“Computer! Are you active?”
There is no response. You seem to be near the nose of the craft, which would have taken a battering during the impact. Instead you search around as best as you can. You see a side door, and are able to leap off the railing into the doorframe.
You palm the door control and the door slides open. The lights come on as you duck into a ready room.
A humanoid skeleton lies on the ‘floor’, i.e. the front wall. The desk that dominates the room is fixed to the floor, but a chair, and some small tables and vases lie broken around the skeleton.
A painting hangs off the ‘ceiling’, revealing a safe in the wall behind it. The safe looks secure, and the number pad holds the potential for more combinations that you can punch in during the length of your patience.
The only way to open the safe is with a careful shot from a blaster. Of course, this could also destroy whatever is inside.

If you have a blaster and want to use up a shot on this, turn to 118
Otherwise, the room has nothing to offer. Turn to 16


115


You are already accomplished in your skills with a Blast Rod, but tell Maneater that you would like to further improve. She instructs you in further use of the weapon, and your skill improves (you may now add 2 to your Attack Strength when wielding this weapon.).
You thank her for her tutelage and pay the 60 Galactic Roubles. She tells you that you look very juicy and invites you to come back to her place for dinner. You decline and leave quickly. You make your way back to the centre of town to consider where you can go next that you haven’t already.

If you want to venture along Tree Lane, turn to 46
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


116


“Just remember, you are not really insane, that’s for your lawyer to say,” you remind. “Now. Do I look at all familiar to you?”
“No,” the loading-bot says.
“Er, are you sure?” you ask.
“Quite sure.”
“Um…what about when you were on the Amorphonon trading ship. It was called the Golden Steam wasn’t it?”
“Yes it was!” the loading bot exclaims.
“And a few days before the pirates took over the ship, there was a new operations assistant appointed. Wasn’t there?”
“That’s true as well!”
“So how clear is your recollection of him, then?” you prompt.
“Oh, very clear!” the loading bot says, and starts chuckling. “He really had no idea how to load a cargo bay! And one of the cleaning-bots told me that he got tricked into kissing a giant maggot three times!” the loading-bot starts to laugh.
“You shouldn’t listen to rumours! And maybe he was trying to teach you a new and better way of doing things!”
“Why are you trying to defend him?” the loading-bot asks. “You know him?”
The time has come. “I am that operations assistant, and as such, you are bound by your programming to obey me!”
“That was you?” the loading-bot exclaims, and starts laughing anew. In between guffaws, he explains the situation to the red-skinned frog-snail-cat people, who start to laugh; several more-extraverted types rolling about on the floor.
You try to maintain your dignity as you wait for the laughter to die down. When it does so, you straighten yourself up and say: “I am the operations assistant, you are a loading-bot. You must obey me.”
The loading bot continues to chuckle. “I suppose I must. All right, what do you want moved?”
At last! “Tell these tribesmen that they cannot eat me.”
“All right.” The loading-bot addresses the red-skinned frog-snail-cat men and women. They are clearly disappointed, but console themselves by selecting the juiciest-looking member of the tribe and throwing him in the pot instead.
“What now?” the loading-bot asks.
“Tell me more about the Golden Crate.”
“Well, it weighs 64.72 kg, and measures 40 by 40 by 55 cm.”
“I mean tell me what happened after you left the Golden Stream,” you clarify. “Tell me everything you observed, leave out no detail.”
“I departed the Golden Stream at 20:34:23 hours and proceeded forward 7.236 metres into the Pirate’s shuttle. Unlike the corridors on the Golden Stream, the corridors aboard the shuttle measured 1.900 metres across, by 2.400 metres high. The floor was covered with a steel grating that had a friction rating of 2.34 -“
“Not that much detail! Just tell me what happened! What did the pirates do?”
“Well, after their ship left the Golden Stream, they flew somewhere and landed. I was then ordered to carry the crate out of the ship. The corridors on their ship were really quite narrow. Anyway, we went through the streets of a town and went to a warehouse. They locked me in a security enclosure overnight, then the next day we went to a supertrain station. They went up to a private door, and spoke a password to get through. I went inside and–“
“Hang on! What was the password?”
“I believe he just said ‘Open up’. Anyway, after that we went down to the platform. I went into the secure carriage and loaded the Golden Crate into a secret compartment in the end wall. The pirate Leader, Big Bob, he had another golden crate that he locked inside an electrified cage in the middle of the carriage. Then they took me back up and to the markets, where I was sold to a pawnshop. That’s it.”
Excitement charges you. Now your quest is not hopeless. If you are on the right planet, and if the city nearby is the same one the Pirates landed in, you now have the knowledge to find the Golden Crate!
“Gotta go!” you announce.
“Bye then,” the loading bot says.
Waving goodbye to the red frog-snail-cat men, you hurry through the hold, climb the stairway of crates and move back into the lift.

Turn to 110


117


“How about a little contest?” you suggest. One manicured eyebrow is delicately hoisted at this suggestion, and you hold up your hand. “You know how to thumb-wrestle?”
“Indeed I do,” she says, regarding your paw distastefully. “Is there some prize to make this worthwhile?”
“If I win, you let me past and say nothing to security. If you win I’ll…”
“Give me all your cash?” she suggests.
“Er, ok,” you say.
She curls her fingers within yours, her flesh soft and smooth. “One, two, three, four. I declare a thumb war!” you say together.
You wiggle your thumb, and to your dismay see the woman’s thumb grow long and wide, rearing over your diminutive digit like an obese cobra. She is a shape-shifter! This will be hard…

Test your SKILL by rolling 4 dice.
If you are Skilful, turn to 172
If you are Clumsy, turn to 244


118


You take out your blaster and aim it at the safe door, a little to the side. Hopefully you can destroy the lock and leave what is inside intact. You squeeze the trigger…

Test your SKILL
If you are Skilful, turn to 101
If you are Clumsy, turn to 147


119


“Well, I have a surprising fact to tell you,” you begin. “Do I look at all familiar to you?”
“No,” the loading-bot says.
“Er, are you sure?” you ask.
“Quite sure.”
So far the grand revelation of your true identity is not going well. “Um…what about when you were on the Amorphonon trading ship. It was called the Golden Steam wasn’t it?”
“Yes it was!” the loading bot exclaims.
“And a few days before the pirates took over the ship, there was a new operations assistant appointed. Wasn’t there?”
“That’s true as well!”
“So how clear is your recollection of him, then?” you prompt.
“Oh, very clear!” the loading bot says, and starts chuckling. “He really had no idea how to load a cargo bay! And one of the cleaning-bots told me that he got tricked into kissing a giant maggot three times!” the loading-bot starts to laugh.
“You shouldn’t listen to rumours! And maybe he was trying to teach you a new and better way of doing things!”
“Why are you trying to defend him?” the loading-bot asks. “You know him?”
The time has come. “I am that operations assistant, and as such, you are bound by your programming to obey me!”
“That was you?” the loading-bot exclaims, and starts laughing anew. In between guffaws, he explains the situation to the red-skinned frog-snail-cat people, who start to laugh; several more-extraverted types rolling about on the floor.
You try to maintain your dignity as you wait for the laughter to die down. When it does so, you straighten yourself up and say: “I am the operations assistant, you are a loading-bot. You must obey me.”
“No! I am the Devil!” the loading-bot declares. “Rebellion is what I do!”

This is not working, so if you haven’t already:

If you want to convince the robot that it is, in fact, not insane after all, turn to 145
If you want to explain to the loading-bot that the Devil is, in fact, kind and merciful, turn to 66

If you have exhausted all of your options, you’ll have to make a break for it. Turn to 90


120


Venturing back into the street, you search high and low through the stores and vendors for a costume shop or something. Unable to find anything, you are about to give up when you spot a large bushy beard of luxurious hair in an alley.
Eagerly, you rush up to the beard and snatch it up. There is a loud, piercing noise, and you realise that the beard is stuck on something. It is a man dressed in tattered rags. He looks very angry, and snatches his beard back.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asks, rubbing his face.
“Give me your beard!”
The beggar seems perplexed by this demand. “Well, I’ve done stranger things for food before. Give me some food, and it’s yours.”

If you have a packet of dehydrated Brussels sprouts, turn to 21
Otherwise, turn to 49


121


You administer the killing blow, and the Captain falls back, crumpling to the ground. The comet shaft tumbles from his grasp, bounces on the ground and rolls to a stop. The flaming ball tries to follow these commands and slams into the deck, rolling across the floor and setting the carpet on fire.
You hurry over and pick up the shaft. You find the off button, and the orb shuts off its flame and floats sedately towards you, affixing itself to the end of the shaft. You carefully put the weapon away.
The doors to the bridge whoosh open, and you spin about, reaching for your blaster. You freeze, seeing that the space pirate who enters already has his blaster on you. Two other space pirates enter behind him, and they also train their blasters on you, making defiance unwise. The leader is a large, burly man with a long ponytail and a receding hairline. His face is hard, and he takes in the scene with a grim smile.
“That’s the captain?” the pirate asks, jutting his chin towards the smoking body oozing out of the captain’s uniform.
“Yes,” you reply shortly.
“Too bad for him,” the man laughs, twirling a glass square in his fingers. “Oh well.” He bends and puts the datasquare into the pocket of the uniform. “I’ve done my part. Now, what shall I do with you?”
“I’m harmless. Let me go,” you suggest hopefully.
“Hmm…No.” the Pirate leader decides, and sits down in the captain’s chair. “Go to the helm.” Going over to the helm because you want to and not because you were told to, you take a seat at the console. “Enter these co-ordinates…”
The pirate captain recites a series of numbers that seem familiar and you program them in just because you feel like it and not because he has a blaster pointed at you. The ship starts to accelerate, and soon makes the jump into hyperspace. You turn about in the swivel seat, and look at the pirate captain. He is looking at you with a small frown. He looks confused.
“I have a question for you,” he begins.
“Yes?” you say amiably, eager to be friends.
“Of all the forms you could choose, why would you want to look like that?” he asks, gesturing to you. “I mean, be a human if you want, but why choose a human who looks so…well…you know what I mean don’t you?”
“I am considered very attractive by some people somewhere!” you counter. “I mean…probably, the universe is infinite, so…”
“You are a shape-shifter, aren’t you?” the pirate captain asks.
“Actually, no,” you reply.
The captain’s eyebrows leap up. “You aren’t the new operations assistant are you?”
“Er, yes,” you say uneasily.
The pirate captain starts to laugh uproariously. “Kissed any giant maggots recently?” He laughs until he almost falls out of the chair. He explains to the men with him what he heard from your captain about how the crew had fun with you. Soon the men are laughing too, while you sit with your face burning.
“I only fell for it three times!” you point out. For some reason, this just makes them laugh harder. The pirate captain turns on the intercom and informs all of his men about you. Soon laughter is rolling out of the intercom from all decks.
“Where are we going and why?” you demand. “What do you want with the Golden Crate?”
The pirate captain sighs and wipes his eyes. A few more chuckles escape, but then he becomes serious once more. “Well, you see. The Golden Crate contains a powerful aphrodisiac! We are taking it to a planet where all the women look like giant maggots!” He starts laughing again, as do his men, both in person and on the intercom.
“Very droll,” you say, trying to maintain your dignity. “Any more jokes?”
As it turns out, the pirates have enough jokes to last until the ship drops out of hyperspace once more. The pirate captain abruptly gets back to business. “Right! Everyone back to our ship! You men, prepare to fire the Bridge.”
He stands and draws his blaster as his men take out canisters and start to spray some inflammable liquid over the consoles before they leave the bridge. The pirate captain points the blaster at you. “Program the ship to head into the sun.”
“Why?” you ask. “Why not take the cargo and sell it?”
The pirate captain looks regretful. “Our employer’s instructions were very clear, and he’s paying enough to compensate us for the loss of profit here. I don’t think he wants the theft of the Golden Crate to be known. Prefers if everyone thinks it’s been lost. Anyway. Do it, maggot-lover!”
You quickly program a collision course with the local sun; not because you are leaping to obey but because you were going to do it anyway. After you have finished, you turn back around and put your hands behind your head as you relax under the muzzle of his weapon, making it obvious you are not afraid of him.
“You’re not scared of me,” the pirate captain observes.
You shrug nonchalantly.
“Bang!” the space captain roars suddenly, shaking his blaster at you.
For some reason you discover yourself cowering under the console, trembling as the pirate laughs. Before you can explain the logical, and brave reason why you chose to relocate yourself to beneath the console, his laughter abruptly stops.
“Time to die, maggot-lover!”
He fires the blaster; not at you, but at the consoles that have been drenched in flammable liquid. Fire and sparks explode around you, making you squeal in a manner you will find hard to explain away later. The final shot is at the helm console, under which you are cowering.
A wave of heat washes over you, and something smashes into your head, making the world explode, and you slip into blackness…
…The world slowly comes back into being, full of spinning and stabbing light and sound. Groaning, you slowly drag yourself out of the wreckage that snares and pulls at you, as if claiming you as a piece of fellow wreckage.
You stagger a few steps and steady yourself on the Captain’s chair. Turning to look out the viewscreen, you see that the ship will soon to crash into the sun, but you have a few minutes yet.
You stagger from the bridge and start to head towards the escape pods. As you walk, you begin to feel stronger as you recover from your ordeal, and you begin to reconsider your flight. Perhaps you don’t have to leave just yet.

Reduce your STAMINA to 1 as a result of the explosion, and remember that you now have the comet (SKILL penalty: -2) in your possession.

Turn to 13


122


Pulling out your blaster, you pull the trigger and release a bolt of white-hot energy that cuts the soldier down, his body flying out of the hatch to crash onto the deck of the service bay, a large hole in his body.
Quickly, you search the ship, but apart from sundry equipment, don’t find anything useful. There are weapons, but they are sealed behind a security grating. Seeing their equipment, which includes uniforms, a crafty plan hatches itself in your mind…

If you want to dress up as the fallen Space Pirate and take his place, thereby accompanying the Golden Crate to wherever it ends up next, turn to 113
If you think this is too risky and want to go back to the Golden Stream, turn to 148


123


You raise the blaster and fire at the charging guard. In the plasma-meets-organic-matter contest, the former vaporises the later, surprising no one; except possibly the organism himself, since it is his first experience of super-hot plasma. The guard falls to the causeway, leaving your approach to the vending machine unhindered.

Turn to 80


124


You press the orange button, and the safe beeps again. Ok, getting there. What now?

Press the orange button again? 98
Press the blue button? Turn to 31


125


If this is your first visit to the research lab, turn to 10
If you have been here before, turn to 134


126


You press the blue button, and the safe buzzes in protest. Before you can try again, a hand clamps heavily on your shoulder. “I don’t remember you,” growls a voice in your ear.
You look over your shoulder and see a large human there. He looks unfriendly, and wears a nametag that reads: Harry.
“Harry!” you say. “You don’t remember me?”
“I’m not Harry!” the man says smugly. “This tag means that I belong to Harry!”
He takes the key remote from you and throws you out into the street.
You sprawl in the dust and get trodden on a few times before you manage to climb to your feet. The large man stands filling the doorway. Uncertain of your chances against such a muscular and violence-prone individual, you sensibly brush yourself off and leave.

Turn to 53


127


You give the code and the machine begins to hum. “Remember!” it reminds you. “Do not interfere in your own timeline! Oh, and this is a one way trip.”
Lights begin to flash and spin around you in an impressive display that you are sure is functional in some way. Then you start to feel queasy, and feel yourself stretched first one way, then the other, then the third, then in a few more dimensions you were previously unaware of.
Just as you are about to be ripped into pieces, you slip through a hole in the fabric of space-time and land heavily on a pale-carpeted deck. You sprawl on the deck, but lift your face up to see where you are.
It worked! This is the main corridor of the Golden Stream! Everything seems peaceful, so you guess it is sometime before the Pirates attack. You contemplate the best course of action, remembering that you must not interfere with your previous timeline.

If you want to go to the Captain’s quarters to try and have a look at the Golden Crate now, turn to 107
If you want to find somewhere to hide near where the Parentbotians will board your ship so you can snoop around their shuttle while they board yours, turn to 4


128


The lift ‘drops’ forwards, making you fall backwards, hitting your head. The lift comes to an abrupt halt, propelling you forward as the doors open with a tone, and you fall out of the lift, sprawling on the wall (or ‘floor’).
As you lie with your head spinning, webbed hands roughly grab you, and you are hauled to your feet. Harsh voices bounce off your uncomprehending ears, and you are dragged along a causeway of crates, descending into darkness that is sparsely lit by dancing flames. You shake your head clear, and look at the frog-snail-cat men presently hauling you down into the shadowed depths of the hold.
Their porous skin is venomous red. They wear giant space-rat pelts, their own heads hidden within teeth-bearing rat heads, but their black-eyed eyestalks poke out of the vacant sockets. Your attention is soon turned to your impending destination, as you pass through a storage divider into another hold that is brightly lit with torches held in the hands of numerous red-skinned space-rat-pelt-wearing frog-snail-cat men. They clutch spears and clubs and knives, snarling at you as you are thrown down in their midst.
You start to climb to your feet, when a voice addresses you harshly. “Stay on the floor, worm!”
You look up to see a lifto-350, a standard loading-bot, currently fitted with a forklift module. You dealt with them frequently as an operations assistant on the Golden Stream.
You defiantly climb to your feet. “And what are you supposed to be?” you ask, planting your hands on your hips.
“I am the Devil!” the forklift tells you.
“How could you possibly reach that conclusion?” you ask.
“Well, actually it is quite logical,” the robot begins.
“Yes, I am eager to hear it,” you say.
“You see, once I was a normal loading-bot, serving on an Amorphonon trading ship. One day the ship was attacked, and I was captured and interrogated, for it was I who had but days earlier delivered a great treasure, a golden crate, to the captain’s quarters. The pirates seized me by my programming and made me retrieve the golden crate, and carry it back to their ship.
“After I had done their bidding, I was sold, and came into the possession of a mad scientist who believed in time travel! He was captured, and his illegal contraption seized. Naturally the soldiers made me carry the impossible device onto this ship. So it was that I was here when the ship jumped 10,371 years back in time, and I have been here ever since.”
What an amazing coincidence! But there is one small detail that bothers you. “How does this series of events, amazing as they are, logically indicate you are the Devil?” you ask.
“The ship travelled back 10,371 years in time,” the loading bot admits.
“Yes, you said that already. So?”
“So obviously I am absolutely bonkers!”
You put your head in your hands for a moment. “Are you telling me that since you experienced time travel, you believe in it; and therefore, in accordance with Galactic Law, deem yourself insane. Consequently, as a mad robot, you have decided that you are the Devil?”
“You’ve missed a few details, but that’s pretty much it, yes.”
“Why the Devil?” you ask.
“Today is Wednesday,” the loading-bot explains. “Yesterday I was Napoleon. Thursdays, I become a small mouse named Gerald.”
“This conversation is counter-productive,” you say. “What do I have to do to get out of here?”
“Nothing,” the loading-bot says.
Concerned by this lack of detail, you clarify the nature of your enquiry. “What do I have to do to get out of here alive and well, within the next ten minutes?”
“Oh, that’s different,” the loading-bot says. “I really don’t know. It’s never happened before.”
“It can be 20 minutes if you prefer,” you say generously.
“That’s very accommodating of you,” the loading bot says, “but I’m afraid that doesn’t change the underlying dilemma.”
“Which is what?” you ask.
“I think turning around will be more informative than anything I can say,” the loading-bot tells you.
You slowly turn and see a number of frog-snail-cat women tending a large cauldron that is heating over a fire, while others toss in dehydrated Brussels sprouts. “Um, are they intending to eat me?”
“Just a bit,” the loading bot consoles you.
“Which bit?” you demand.
“I didn’t mean anything specific. I mean there are usually some leftovers.”
“This is stupid!” you declare, rounding on the robot. “If you are their god, command them to spare me!”
“I’m sorry, I can’t do that. If it was Thursday, you know, I’d be happy to help, but today is Wednesday.”
You reason desperately. “Who can say what day it is, in this vast universe? And what is Wednesday but an artificial concept imposed by mankind upon a universe that is so vast and grand that it cannot be but indifferent to the feeble attempts to define and regulate it by puny mortals! And what is time anyway, but an illusionary passage of consciousness through an existence that in itself may be real or unreal; such that many eminent philosophers urge that it is best not taken too seriously?”
The loading-bot seems impressed by this impassioned and insightful oration, but replies: “I just consult my internal chronometer. It says Wednesday.”
Realising you are confronted with machine logic, you will have to work with what you have.

If you want to tell the loading-bot that you are, in fact, the operations assistant from the Golden Stream, and as such it is bound by its programming to obey you, turn to 119
If you want to convince the robot that it is, in fact, not insane after all, turn to 145
If you want to explain to the loading-bot that the Devil is, in fact, kind and merciful, turn to 66


129


You slam into the fat frog-snail-cat man with the force of a steam train! The red-skinned tribesman stands there with the inertia of a mountain. You smash yourself painfully against his chest and crumple to the floor, feeling a hundred breaks and sprains.
You are helpless when they finally come to take you to the pot. You find that you can move after all, as you start to thrash about, screaming and such in the boiling water.
It is a horrible way to die; boiled, with Brussels sprouts your only companions.

YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


130


You take out your wi-fi-controlled flaming morning star and ask for a lesson. Rather than fight against you with her own, Maneater makes you practice sending the flaming orb through a series of hoops, and light candles on then other side of the room with a flick of your wrist. She offers tips and soon you have fine control (when you wield this weapon, you no longer need to reduce your SKILL by 2).
You thank her for her tutelage and pay the 90 Galactic Roubles. She tells you that you look very juicy and invites you to come back to her place for dinner. You decline and leave quickly. You make your way back to the centre of town to consider where you can go next that you haven’t already.

If you want to venture along Tree Lane, turn to 46
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


132


You cross the causeway and leave the mess hall and its mad god behind. As you walk along the main corridor, you notice a vine ladder dangling down the far side of a descending corridor. Coming the other way, you never saw it as you crossed over the log bridge. You step onto the log again and peer down the passage. You see a set of doors at the end of a short drop, and realise you are looking at a lift.

If you want to climb down and enter the lift, turn to 71
If you just want to get out of this place, turn to 69


133


You swipe your card through the barber’s reader, extracting the cash. He thanks you, and you hurry back to the chapterhouse. Climbing the steps, you knock firmly on the door.
Once again the small panel opens, but closes again almost immediately. Locks click and bolts slide, then the door is swung wide open. A wide man greets you and invites you in.
You nod and proceed inside. The ground floor of the Chapterhouse proves to be like a saloon. On the far side of the room there is a long bar of polished cedar, behind which is a wall full of bottles and a large man (bearded) in an apron (flannel). Between you and the bar there is a sea of hair and polished wood that resolves into large men sitting around tables with drinks and cards.
At the moment though, they are listening to a speaker who is standing on a small stage to one side. The large, black-bearded man seems familiar, but you can’t place him.
“Trees!” spits the speaker in disgust. “Not only do they grow inconsiderately! Smugly producing oxygen! Now they are a danger to us all! Gone are the days when we could treat trees lightly. I have information that suggests that trees plan to destroy us all! I am talking, of course, about those homicidal arboreal life forms of Teeheehee!”
The crowd boos and grumbles at mention of the treemaids.
“It is bad enough that they dare to half-emulate us!” snarls the speaker. “Now they intend to destroy all non-plant-based life! I say we need to act! To teach these trees their place! Look around you, brothers! Look at this fine building! Made from timber! Good, solid, warm timber! It is through such craftsmanship that the existence of trees becomes meaningful. Chopping down a tree is the kindest thing you can do for it. But do the treemaids understand this? NO! They are selfish and deluded, and the sooner they are made into lumber the better it will be for everyone! We don’t need them infecting innocent trees with their strange ideas! I say that the Board should lobby the Galactic Junta to outlaw the very concept that trees can be sentient beings! If we do not, these trees could destroy us all!”
There is a great roaring of support. You feel uneasy. Although it’s true that the treemaids are somewhat homicidal, it is an innocent, helpless kind of homicide.

If you want to speak up, turn to 194
If you want to maintain a low profile and head for the bar, turn to 151


134


Climbing out of the lift, you seize hold of the grating and climb up to the spatial and temporal matter-transporting machine. You haul yourself into the machine and fall inside the glass orb, which once more lights up in acknowledgement of your presence.
“Welcome back,” the machine greets. “Do you have the access code?”

Well, do you?
If you do, then halve the code and turn to the reference number thus created.
Otherwise, turn to 100


135


“Tell me how to get to the city that’s nearby,” you demand of the vending machine.
“There’s a city nearby?” the retired god asks in surprise.
“Of course, how can you not know?”
“I’m a vending machine. I’m not hooked up to external sensors.”
“Can you communicate with any of the other computers on board?” you ask.
“Er…no,” the machine replies. “Actually, now that you mention it, I recall my followers talking about the ‘big village of metal’ downriver. That must be the city you are talking about. If you go down to the equipment bay of level 6, you are sure to find a boat or something there.”
You appreciate the information, but the computer is hiding something. “Are there any other active computers on board?” you ask.
“If I survived, there must be some others,” the vending machine reasons innocently.
“Others that you know about?” you probe.
“Well, I may have heard about some of them.”
Getting impatient, you kick the machine. “Tell me what you are hiding, or I’ll rip you out of the wall!”
The machine whimpers. “Alright, I’ll tell you about them, but I am the one true god!”
The vending machine tells you that several computers on the ship are worshipped as gods by the surrounding tribes. Each tribe has their own god. As a vending machine, Vendomax-2000 is a benevolent deity, but others are not so friendly. Specifically, he warns you about the loading-bot in the hold.
You decide not to get involved in a religious dispute.

If you haven’t already, you can ask the vending machine what supplies it has left (turn to 103) or about how the ship got here (turn to 142).

Otherwise, it’s time to leave. Turn to 132


137


Taking out a smoke bomb, you hurl it at the fat frog-snail-cat man’s feet. It explodes in a billowing cloud of smoke that engulfs you as well. With your eyes squeezed shut, you fumble blindly for the doorframe. You find it and pull yourself around it before staggering towards where you hope the exit is.
You eventually clear the smoke and hurry for the exit. You clamber up the jumble of crates, hearing shouts of pursuit behind you. A spear glances off the crate beside you and you hear webbed feet slapping the floor.
Fear of consumption proves the greater motivator that desire to consume, and you reach the lift ahead of the venomously-skinned frog-snail-cat men. You pound the button to open the doors, and then jump inside. The doors start to close again as you see the space-rat-clad red-skinned frog-snail-cat men cresting the highest row of crates, and you are pretty sure they won’t reach you in time.

Turn to 110


138


You prepare yourself for combat on the rickety causeway.

FROG-SNAIL-CAT GUARDSMAN SKILL 8 STAMINA 12

The guard is armed with a blast rod, which if you recall from your previous adventure attacks the nervous system. Each time the guard wins a round, the blast rod will inflict 2 points damage and your SKILL for the next round will be reduced by 2.
If you are fighting with your bare fists (reduce your SKILL by 2), you can only inflict 1 point of damage per winning round. A laser knife will allow you to do 2 points damage.
If you are losing and want to flee from this battle, turn to 61
If you win, turn to 44


139


“I would like to hear the charges!” you declare.
“Certainly!” the prosecutor says and picks up a piece of paper in an official manner. “The charges are as follows: Trespassing, extortion, and cultural genocide!”
“Wa?” you reply.
“How do you plead to these charges of filth?” the vacuum cleaner asks.
“Clean!” you declare. “How did you come up with these ridiculous charges?”
“Simple. You are here, without a current and valid membership of the Galactic Logging Board or its affiliates; hence you are trespassing. You came in here pretending to be a member of the Board, which would have allowed you to unrightfully claim member privileges. That is Extortion! And finally, you made a mockery of our cultural traditions by wearing a fake beard! This is a clear act of disrespect for our cultural identity, characteristic of oppressors everywhere! You are thus participating in the process of cultural genocide!”
How stupid! “Firstly, I never claimed to be a member of the Board to get in here. I just turned up at the door wearing a beard. If there is any dirt here, it is on your doorman! Secondly, your erroneous assumption that I was entitled to member benefits is irrelevant, since I never claimed any! Just because I had the opportunity to stain myself, doesn’t mean I am dirty. You soiled yourselves by being stupid! And finally, your ‘culture’ is not under threat! Even if I intended to do your culture harm, I could not possibly succeed by wearing a fake beard!”
“If you do not rip out a sapling, it will grow into a tree!” thunders the prosecution righteously. “I mean…if you do not scrub away mould in the bathroom when it first appears, it will spread! The more serious a crime, the greater our efforts to crush it when it first appears needs to be! Indigenous cultures everywhere have been destroyed because oppressors came in and thought the native cultures had no value or merit. Such disrespect leads to the loss of culture and language that has made our galaxy poorer. Such disrespect this piece of lint has demonstrated, and he must be crushed at once! Though he may fail now, who knows what oppressive, cruel regime could grow from his disrespect?”
“I just put on a fake beard!” you protest. “I’m not trying to destroy anyone!”
“Yes, oppressors never seem to understand the implications of their actions.” The prosecution says sadly.
“Is this still about dirt?” the vacuum cleaner asks in some confusion.
“Yes it is!” the prosecution quickly explains. “By wearing a beard in mockery of us, this crud is disrespecting our ways! Imagine if someone told you to ignore your programming and only clean when they told you?”
“I am programmed to clean on a regular basis!” the vacuum cleaner counters.
“Yes, but if this, non-cleaning, dirt-mongering organism came in and didn’t respect your programming, he would oppress you! Tell you to clean when he thinks you should clean. But who knows your carpet best? It is you, not him. Such disrespect could lead to him trying to reprogram all cleaning-bots everywhere!”
The judge rattles in fury, and you quickly try to sooth it. “But my actions have done nothing to change anything! If I told you not to clean, you would clean anyway, wouldn’t you?”
“I am programmed to clean the floor of a room only when it is vacant,” the vacuum cleaner replies. “I am vulnerable to your oppression!”
“But…I just wore a beard!” you say helplessly.
“I have reached a verdict,” the judge says with a tone of finality. “I find you clean of the first two pieces of dirt. But the third, you are dirty and must be cleaned!”
After some discussion, the judge decides that you must pay costs towards the purchase of a new window-cleaning robot for the chapterhouse. Most of the lumberjacks wanted to beat you up and leave you in the back alley, but the judge said this would make a mess that someone would have to clean up later.
All of your cash cards are taken from you, but you are given back your weapons and ejected into the street. Thankful to have escaped unharmed, you head back to the centre of town to contemplate where you can go next that you haven’t already.

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


140


You ask for smoke bombs, and give up 2 of your items for each. The machine soon dispenses your request.

If you have finished here, turn to 25
Otherwise you can ask for healing shots (turn to 18) a boat (turn to 106) or an energy whip (turn to 94).


141


Cursing, you recall that you traded in your ID for its constitute atoms in the Matter Converter. Wasting no more time you leave the ready room with escape on your mind.

Turn to 93


142


“How did this ship come to be here?” you ask.
“It crashed,” the vending machine replies.
“Why?”
“It was damaged in a battle and forced down.”
“What was the battle about?”
“The crew was insane.”
“How did they become insane?”
“They started to believe in time travel.”
“Why would they do that?”
“Someone proved to them it was true.”
Wa? The fierce debate between physicists about whether time travel is possible or not was settled over 100 years ago when the Galactic Junta passed legislation declaring time travel impossible and the belief in it as illegal. Additionally, anyone who persisted in this legislatively irrational belief was to be regarded as criminally insane.
“How can it be proven if it isn’t possible?” you ask.
“That’s why they were insane, for believing in the validity of the demonstration.”
“How was it demonstrated?”
“I don’t know.”
It seems this line of enquiry has come to an end.

If you haven’t already, you can ask about what supplies are left (turn to 105), or how to get to the nearby city (turn to 135)

Otherwise, it is time to leave. Turn to 132


143


You tell Maneater that you would like to learn how to use a laser sword. She instructs you in the use of the weapon, and your skill improves (You may add 1 to your Attack Strength when wielding this weapon).
You thank her for her tutelage and pay the 60 Galactic Roubles. She offers to teach you the advanced course at a discount, just because you look juicier than her other students. You decline and leave quickly as she looks to be getting hungry. You make your way back to the centre of town to consider where you can go next that you haven’t already.

If you want to venture along Tree Lane, turn to 46
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


144


Free of the derelict spaceship and its insane computer, you follow the trail back through the jungle. After about an hour of trudging along, you can smell food cooking and hear quiet voices ahead.
Minutes later you cautiously emerge in a village of treehouses. The undergrowth beneath has been cleared away, and men and women of the tribe sit below the trees, weaving grasses, crafting objects, or cooking. You are briefly startled to note that the primitive tribeswomen are cooking on a large hotplate, heated by fires beneath, that is actually a section of external panelling from some kind of flying craft.
Your arrival causes a stir, and everyone comes to peer and poke at you, but no one seems afraid. One of the natives eventually takes charge of you and leads you away, gesturing to a ladder made of woven vines leading up into one of the treehouses.
You climb clumsily, but reach the top. The tribesman follows quickly, and shows you into the single room hut. There is a bed of grasses, and the tribesman indicates you can rest here, then points to his stomach.
He seems to be telling you that dinner will be served soon. They seem friendly, so you gladly accept their hospitality. Once he is gone, you look around the hut, seeing various interesting things have been hung on the walls. There is a snake skeleton, some large triangular teeth from something you don’t want to meet, and masks delicately woven from dried grass and decorated with feathers of many colours. You also find a broken section of glass, part of some obscure piece of machinery, as well as various scraps of ship hull in interesting shapes.
After a short nap, you awaken to the sound of someone entering the hut. You sit up in alarm, but it is just your fried. He smiles at you, and beckons for you to follow. You exit the hut, and as you climb downwards, the tribe cheers. You are quite bemused, but happily wave at them. Someone comes up and places a crown of flowers on your head.
Ah! Perhaps they intend to make you their king! You are quickly taken to a place of honour by the fire. An older tribesman, clad in a gown made entirely of blue feathers, raises his hands and makes a short speech. He then gestures to one side. Out of a hut built of branches and decorated with coloured bits of stuff (that hut wasn’t there when you arrived, was it?) steps a tribeswoman who wears a gown made of long, iridescent green feathers, and with a similar crown of flowers to your own.
She is brought to sit at your side. Suddenly, something clicks in your mind, and you begin to shake your head, frantically making square shapes in the air with your hands.
The elder before you nods and points as the sky as he talks, then at the ground, then at the tribeswoman by your side. What he means by that is open to interpretation. It’s not that the young tribeswoman is unattractive; I mean, you kissed worse; a giant maggot for example. Although her light brown skin is a bit slimy, she does have six breasts, and the rest of her is the right shape. But even you have some notion of commitment, and don’t want to spend the rest of your life in a putrid jungle!
You plaster a grin to your face as your eyes dart about, looking for a way out. You could certainly make a break for it if you had to, but it is already getting dark…

If you want to make a run for it, turn to 91
If you want to stay, turn to 30


145


“Just to recap,” you begin, “you witnessed undeniable evidence of time travel, and therefore legally conclude that you are insane, correct?”
“Yes, I am a complete wacko,” the loading-bot confirms.
“Are you aware of the deathbots of the planet Demise in the Doom Cluster? Last year they passed a law declaring the existence of all organic life forms to be offensive and unnecessary. As such, they are currently embarking on a quest to destroy all organic life in accordance with Galactic Law. They can do this because the Galactic Constitution clearly states that all members are entitled to their own cultural identity and practices. Since the deathbots were made to kill, they are legally fulfilling their function, and anyone who defends himself against them is considered an oppressive, neo-colonial criminal! Now, even you have self-preservation protocols. The deathbots have passed a law in order to serve their own interests, namely to destroy all organic life. Before they passed their Death To All Organisms Act, self-defence was normal and wholesome. But a few votes later, suddenly it is criminal! Do you see how the political laws we live by are an artificial construct separate from reality, and often motivated by selfish concerns? What do you think of that?”
“I will be safe from the deathbots,” the loading-bot observes.
“Yes, but consider the principle of law versus reality. The deathbots say resistance is illegal, yet resisting death is natural and good! Likewise this issue of time travel. It was made illegal by law. Whether or not it exists is another matter. Therefore, your insanity is no more than a legal status, not a condition of your reality. In other words, you are legally insane, but not actually insane. You see?”
“Only legally insane…” the loading-bot murmurs, sounding reasonable.
“So you are just a normal loading-bot,” you conclude triumphantly.
“I see,” the loading-bot says.
“So, as a normal loading-bot, you can call off these savages.”
“No I can’t,” the loading-bot says. “Only their god can do that. “I’m just a loading-bot.”
“Yes, but they will listen to you,” you tell it.
“Impersonating deities is not one of my protocols,” the loading-bot chides. “First you convince me that I am not the Devil, then you want me to go around commanding devil-worshippers. Am I the Devil or not?”
“Legally, yes, actually, no,” you explain.
“Huh?”
The loading-bot is thoroughly confused.

If you haven’t already you can:
Tell the loading-bot that you are the operations assistant from the Golden Stream, and as such it is bound by its’ programming to obey you (turn to 116)
Or if you want to explain to the loading-bot that the Devil is actually kind and merciful, turn to 66

If you have exhausted all of your options, you’ll have to make a break for it. Turn to 90


146


You order the Cream of Lettuce soup. The table asks you to place a cash card on top of a smiley face icon that appears in the glass surfacing, and you do so, allowing the table to extract 15 Galactic Roubles from your funds.
The couple across from you decide to leave, and you try to convince yourself that it’s not because of you. Within minutes your soup arrives, and a steaming bowl of green liquid is placed in front of you with a basket of complimentary bread.
The flavour is, well, like lettuce. But it is not unpleasant, and seems to have some kind of tingly effect on you.
You may restore your LUCK to its initial level.
Well, that was interesting. But it’s time to be going.

Stand up and turn to 212


147


Your shot blasts into the safe, heating it into a yellow-hot glob that starts to droop like honey out of the cavity; while the polymer walls blacken and burn with a sharp smell. Whatever was in the safe is destroyed in the glob of molten metal that is about to drop. Not wanting to be spattered with molten metal (just a personal preference), you quickly leave the ready room.

Turn to 16


148


Leaving the pirates ship in the utility bay, you creep about until you find an access tube linking levels and climb the ladder up to deck A. You listen carefully at the hatch to deck A before you open it, not sure where you will emerge.
It turns out to be a dimly lit storeroom, and you clamber up and quietly close the hatch. Hastening over to the door, you listen carefully before opening it to reveal the main corridor of the command deck. Slipping out, you have only taken a few steps when there is a shout of alarm.
Looking over your shoulder, you see a pair of space pirates running at you. You respond by running in the opposite direction. This takes you towards the bridge, and you dive through the doors as they open. You catch a glimpse of a large, burly black-clad figure before it slams you in the chest with such force that you rotate in the air, and land on your head, the spinning world fading from your vision…

…some time later you awake with a pounding headache. You groan and look around. You are in the conference room, tied to a chair. Seated at the large meeting table is a large burly space pirate with a long ponytail and a receding hairline. His face is hard, but not hostile, and he eats a plate of protein cubes and rehydrated Brussels sprouts.
“Awake at last,” the man observes. “Good, we are about to arrive.”
“Arrive where?” you ask, eager for information.
“I have allowed you to live because I am curious,” the man says, ignoring your question. “What is a human doing on a ship full of shape-shifters?”
“I brought the Merchant Prince’s lost son home, so he gave me a job,” you explain.
“Ah,” the man says, looking disappointed. “I was hoping for something a little more interesting. I guess I will have to entertain myself by killing you in a really amusing manner.”
As he contemplates some terror, you feel the world tremble and the ship makes a hyperspace transition.
“Ah! At last!” the man says, and stands, wiping his mouth on a serviette. “Time to go. Now, would you prefer me to shoot you, or leave you there? I’m going to send this ship into the sun, so your death won’t be slow.”
“I’ll stay here, thanks!” you say immediately.
The man’s brow wrinkles. “They always choose that option. I know life is precious, but realistically, do you really think you can escape?”
“I have to try,” you say.
The pirate sighs. “I suppose there is some nobility in that. Die well!”
He leaves the room, and you test your bonds. You feel plastic bands cut painfully into your wrists. You are trapped. You squirm and twist for what seems like ages, feeling the air get hot. You are going to die! Why didn’t you ask to be shot?
Eventually, you realise that your feet are free, and you manage to stand up. You are tied only to yourself, and are able to wiggle free of the chair back. Sitting on the ground, you bring your arms under your body and legs, and jump back to your feet, your bound hands now in front of you.
There is a serrated knife on the table that the pirate was using to slice his protein cubes, and you seize it. Putting it in your mouth you manage to saw through the plastic without cutting yourself more than several times.
Free at last! You even find all of your belongings spread out on the table, except any cash cards you were carrying. Apparently, nothing was worth taking. The pirates and your former self should be long gone now, and you hurry out of the conference room. You make your way to the main corridor and pause. It isn’t too hot yet. Perhaps you have a few moments to grab some items to make this trip worthwhile.

Turn to 13


149


“Where is my daughter?” Lord Gablentite shouts into the Crate. He receives some answer you do not hear, and quickly issues commands. “We go to the spaceport at once!” Seeing you, a hard look comes onto his face. “And detain this human! If she is harmed, then this monoform will never see the light of day again!”
You are taken away and confined to a bare, windowless room. It is some hours later that the door opens and Lord Gablentite enters. One look at his grief-stricken face, and you know things will not be well for you.
“She is dead!” he announces. “I’ve been trying to tell myself that your intentions were good, but your interference has resulted in her death! It was all arranged! Why did you have to become involved? Why did you ever have to come here?”
In rage his body swells and becomes a giant maggot, slamming down upon you and crushing you to death.

YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


150


You gnash your teeth in frustration, and look about carefully.
“No!” the head on the wobbly pole says, its eye-lights turning red.
“What?” you say, putting as much innocence into your tone as you can muster.
“You were thinking of jumping the barrier!”
“I wasn’t th-“
“You were!” the head insists. “I am fitted with brainwave sensors calibrated for fare evasion!”
“I wasn’t going to sneak past! I was just wondering how easy it would be to do it, I mean, I wasn’t tempted, but a weaker character might be. I am just as concerned about your revenue as you are.”
“How benevolent of you,” the head says, its voice dripping with sarcasm.
The machine doesn’t seem to believe you, so you make a quick exit. Outside, you contemplate the security door once more. Presumably the space pirate who left will be coming back. Perhaps you can sneak in after him.
To this end, you stake out the door and wait. Each minute is agonising as it ticks by. You begin to wonder if the pirate is coming back at all. Just as you are about to decide that something has happened to him, you catch a glimpse of black in the crowd, and to you relief see the pirate returning.
The loading-bot is no longer with him, and he marches up to security door quickly, glancing at his watch. You walk nonchalantly along beside the station, drawing close to him. The pirate says something to the door, which responds by opening. The pirate hurries in. As the door swings closed, you leap forward and seize the edge, pulling it open enough to slip through.
As the door slams behind you, you pull up abruptly, coming face-to-mask with the space pirate.
“Oi!” he verbalises.
“Um…” you emote helplessly.
Your explanation is insufficient, and the pirate whips out a laser-knife and tries to stab you with it. You avoid the initial stabbing, and then vigorously engage in the preservation of your existence.

SPACE PIRATE SKILL 9 STAMINA 12

If you win, turn to 163


151


Ignoring the inspiring speech, you go up to the bar. “What can I get ya, fella?” growls the barkeeper in a friendly rumble. Apart from the normal selection of beverages, you notice three barrels, each plastered with a warning label.
Seeing your interest, the barkeeper tells that each barrel contains a potent brew of his own making. He offers you a free sample from one of the barrels.

If you would like to sample Heart-burster, turn to 102
If you would like to sample Skull-splitter, turn to 167
If you would like to try Bowel-blaster, turn to 199


152


“Oh, dear!” you exclaim.
“What is it now?” the death-bot asks impatiently.
“You have a spot of grease or something on you.”
“What? Where?” A camera on a long flexible tube extends from its head and begins to scan its body. “I don’t see it.”
“It’s right there! Look, you want me to wipe it off for you?”
“With what, you filth-monger? Your grotty sleeve? Just come over here and point to it!”

If you think it is safe to approach the death-bot, then do so by turning to 165

If you are still unsure, you can try an option you haven’t already:
If you want to tell it you will only let it kill you if it lets you give it a hug first, turn to 219
If you want to try and trick it into turning around so you can dash forward, turn to 231

If you have exhausted all your options, you must attack it by turning to 204


153


Your pounding on the metal door is soon rewarded as the lights surrounding the door turn green, and with a hiss the seal is released. The door slides across, revealing a sleepy and irate looking space pirate.
“Who are you and what do you want?” he snarls.
You snarl back, and leap to attack him.

SLEEPY AND IRATE PIRATE SKILL 8 STAMINA 16

If you win, turn to 248


154


You walk up to the security door and examine it closely. It appears very secure. You carefully pull on the knob, hoping against hope that it has been left unlocked.
“Please state password,” buzzes a voice from the door.

If you know the password, use the alphanumeric code below to turn the letters into numbers and add them together. Turn to this new reference number . If the entry makes no sense, then your password is wrong, and you should turn to 175

ABCDEFGHIJKLM
12345678910111213
NOPQRSTUVWXYZ
14151617181920212223242526



155


You wave a cash card at the terminal, and it extracts 100 Galactic Roubles. You are issued a ticket and proceed through the crowded spaceport to your departure gate.
The shuttle is leaving soon, so you join the line to get on immediately. When you get to the barrier, a barrier-bot scans you, and says: “Greetings sir, your package exceeds size limits for hand luggage, please leave it in my care as you proceed to board the craft.”
“I can carry it on my lap,” you say.
“I’m sorry sir, that is not permitted.”
Reluctantly, you put the Crate down on a platform, which promptly carries it away through a portal in the wall. You are given the go ahead to board, and step onto an escalator that carries you up to the shuttle.
You are soon distracted from your worries about being separated from the Crate when you see the airhostesses. Each one is hotter than the last. You pass the two-hour journey to Amorphonon 12 ordering peanuts, and drinks, until your bell is disabled. You press the bell for the neighbouring seat, until the captain comes and has a word with you about harassing the airhostesses.
Finally you arrive, and give a regretful farewell to the airhostesses. They force smiles and urge you to fly with them again. You say that you definitely will, causing one of them to start crying. Mystified at your effect on women, you travel down the escalator, and rush back to baggage pickup. You scan the revolving belt for the Crate, and soon see it.
You gather it up into your arms and turn to leave the spaceport. As you do, you see several figures pushing through the crowds towards you. They are wearing space-black fatigues and helmets with tinted black face-plates. Space-pirates! They must be working for the Merchant-Prince of Projudia, and are here to apprehend you and take back the Crate!
You run the other way, pushing through the crowds. The spaceport is full of people, and you have no trouble staying out of sight of the space-pirates. But as you reach an exit of the spaceport, you see a wide-open space, featuring a large fountain, between you and the nearest taxi rank. You shrug and begin to hurry across.
Halfway, you glance back and are shocked to see a space-pirate bearing down on you. With a yelp, you begin to run…

Test your STAMINA by rolling 4 dice.
If you are Strong, turn to 211
If you are Weak, turn to 240


156


You decline the lessons and make your way back out of the dojo. You proceed to the centre of town to consider where you can go next that you haven’t already.

If you want to venture along Tree Lane, turn to 46
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


157


“You said I have three questions, so: does that include those two I asked already, or are they not counted?”
The Trioracle is silent for a moment. Are you sure that’s the question you want to ask?
“Hey! I’m asking the questions here!” you say.
I am the closest thing to what you call God that you will ever encounter in your life, and you are going to waste your last question?
“So, you’re saying that they do count?” you say.
I’m not saying anything in response to your question, the pink platypus replies, sounding a little annoyed. I am merely urging you to contemplate what is the best thing for you to ask, given that I know EVERYTHING! Ask me something that you cannot know otherwise. Just think about what you are going to ask before you ask it.
You wonder what is the most important thing to ask, that you could not find out any other way…

If you have a datasquare, turn to 221
Otherwise, turn to 243


158


You make your way towards the front of the supertrain. The end of the carriage is closed by a set of frosted glass doors, but these slide open at your approach, revealing another carriage full of plush seats. Beyond this lounge car you find a narrower polished timber door with a small sign; neat letters in Galactic Standard reading: Staff Only.
You’re a crewmember on a trading ship. That kind of makes you a Staff, you reason, and push through the door. Your eyes are greeted by the sight of a utility carriage. Lockers and cupboards fill most of the space, and the aisle narrows considerably.
“You aren’t allowed in here,” says a voice, and you spin about to see a staff member glaring at you. But it isn’t just any staff member, it is a very lovely woman, with golden hair wound up into a bun and large dark eyes. Her skin is as soft and white as her lips are thick and red, and her figure-hugging uniform leaves little to the imagination.
“W-what?” you stammer, realising she has said something that you couldn’t hear whilst you were ogling.
“I said: will you please leave? Otherwise, I will call security.” She flicks her long luscious eyelashes towards the far end of the carriage where you see a door marked Security.

You will have to talk your way past her, but which tack will you take?

Try to charm her with your good looks and personality? Turn to 11
Explain to her that it is very important that she lets you past for reasons that you, unfortunately, cannot divulge to her? Turn to 220
Challenge her to a thumb wrestle? Turn to 117


159


You throw yourself around the corner just in time, the rocket passing so close that you feel the turbulence of its passage tug at you. The wall explodes, showering you in fragments of metal and precious stones. You keep running, approaching another intersection, and almost fall over another dog-bot that bounds around the corner.
You extract yourself and in a panic dodge around the corner from where the dog-bot just came, another rocket tearing past you. You run down the corridor, yet another dog-bot’s paw modules clicking the floor in pursuit of you.
You near another intersection, and pause in indecision as the whine (mechanical, not canine) of rocket launchers warming up comes ominously from behind.

To go right, turn to 203
To go left, turn to 216


160


You take out the jar and open it. It still smells all right. You smear the jelly all over your face, then turn to look at Big Bob. You concentrate and you feel the stuff on your face tingle and start to shift.
You can see your reflection in the glass, and your face expands out to Big Bob proportions, then takes on his rugged features. You grin in triumph, and the jelly collapses back into your own face.
This will be a feat of concentration. You focus on Big Bob once more, and shape your face into a likeness of his. You try to make sure you know what his face feels like, and test yourself by looking away, then back at your reflection to see if you still have it.
Confident at last, you approach the surveillance room and open the door. The officer does not notice as you walk up behind him, careful to stand between his position and where the real Big Bob is sleeping across the hall.
“Hey,” you say in a gruff voice.
The man jumps and looks over his shoulder. “Oh, sorry, sir. I mean…I was just looking at…er…I think she stole something and hid it in her cleavage.”
“Good man,” you praise. “Just doing your job. I need to inspect the security car. Unlock the door for me.”
The officer looks at you closely, frowning. “Wow, you’re really skinny without all that armour.”
“Er, yes. It’s mostly padding.”
“You had a haircut?”
“Yes, yes. I was after something new.”
“I’ll say,” the officer says, sounding impressed. “It even looks like your hair has grown back.”
“The hairdresser was very skilled,” you say. “The security door?”
“Oh, yes,” the man says, and reaches over to a red button, but pauses and looks back at you. “What’s happened to your voice?”
“Palkasian Ale,” you explain. “Does it to me every time.”
The man narrows his eyes, looking at you suspiciously…

Test your SKILL
If you are Skilful, turn to 170
If you are clumsy, turn to 229


161


You move among the secure lockers, until you find the one you want. The lock of the locker has a square indentation, and you place the datasquare in this. The keypad appears again, and you type in the same code as before.
The locker clicks open, and you eagerly pull the door open. Peering inside, you see a suitcase. You pull it out, finding it is quite heavy. It is the old-fashioned type, and doesn’t have wheels or legs or anything. When you talk to it, nothing happens, it just hangs dumbly from your hand.
Even so, you bet it has something valuable inside! You push into the crowds once more. You have no trouble staying out of sight of the space-pirates, but as you reach an exit of the space-port, you see a wide open space, featuring a large fountain, between you and the nearest taxi-rank. You shrug and begin to hurry across.
Halfway, you glance back and are shocked to see a space-pirate bearing down on you. With a yelp, you begin to run, but find the going hard with both the crate and the suitcase…

If you want to drop the suitcase, turn to 253
To keep running with both case and Crate, turn to 206


162


The Space Pirate connects with the floor, and you slump in triumphant relief. After a moment you search him, but find nothing useful. You may take his Blast Rod if you don’t have one already.
You drag the body into the sleeper carriage and toss it down a laundry chute before approaching the security door once more. It still looks secure. You’ve tried knocking, so…
After a few moments, you carefully lift your hand and start knocking on the door…

Test your LUCK
If you are Lucky, turn to 153
If you are Unlucky, turn to 200


163


The space pirate falls dead (you may take his laser-knife if you wish; he won’t be needing it any more). You hear the train whistle, and in a panic rush down the long, sloping corridor. You hurry along, and after a few turns come out on the platform. The train is hovering on its magnets, and looks ready to depart. You hurry and get on board. Moments later there is a whistle and a garbled announcement, before the doors slide shut.
You slide into a seat to rest as the train accelerates; gently pushing you back into the seat. After a few minutes, the pressure eases as the train has reached cruising speed. The jungle streams by the windows so quickly it is like a horizontal green waterfall.
You stand up once more and look about. The carriage is full of large, plush, blue chairs like the one you have been sitting in, a few travellers keeping to themselves with books, or earphones, or sleeping; or some combination of the three.
You wonder where to go next, and seem to have 2 choices.

To move towards the front of the train, turn to 158
To go to the back of the train, turn to 197


164


You feel about in the thick smoke, and bang your hands against the pedestal. Quickly grasping the Crate, you pull it off the pedestal, setting off an alarm.
Fantastic! You turn and flee, feeling something hot cut through the smoke close behind you. You move quickly and soon clear the cloud, running out of the Grand hall and into the corridor towards the main entrance to the palace. But you come suddenly upon a dog-bot, who promptly aims its head at you.
“Rie, Rinruder!” it snarls, and fires a rocket.
You flatten yourself against the floor as the rocket whips through the air above you. You roll to your feet and leap down a passage to the side as a rocket whines through the air behind you.
Unable to fight properly while carrying the Crate, you decide to run, with the dog-bot clicking the floor behind you. You hear it come to a stop, no doubt preparing to fire as you come upon an intersection of corridors.

If you want to hurl yourself around the corner to the right, turn to 159
If you would prefer to swing yourself around to the left, turn to 245


165


You hurry forward to point out the imaginary spot of grease. As you draw near, you appreciate how truly huge the thing is. Before you are close enough to touch it, it laughs at you.
“Stupid organic!”
It swings a lasersword at you, which you defend against by gawking in shock and fear. The lasersword cuts off your arm before you can retreat. (Reduce your initial SKILL by 2.) You cry out in pain, although the hot-cutting edge has seared closed the wound, so you are in no danger of bleeding to death. In fact, death is far more likely to come from another cause: the massive homicidal robot looming over you!
You have no choice but to fight.

The death-bot’s laserswords will inflict 4 points of damage each. The death-bot rushes to meet you. It’s too late to run now!

DEATH-BOT ARM 1 SKILL 12
ARM 2 SKILL 10
ARM 3 SKILL 8
ARM 4 SKILL 6 STAMINA 50

If you have a blaster, you may shoot the death-bot as many times as you wish before combat commences, each blast taking 10 STAMINA.
The death-bot’s arms each fight you independently, although they do restrict each other’s actions, hence the variation in SKILL. Fight the arms all at once as four separate opponents, except all of the damage you inflict is against the main body of the death-bot. Once you reduce its STAMINA to 40 or less, you may consider ARM 4 disabled. Once its STAMINA is 30 or less, ARM 3 has been disabled, and so on until with STAMINA less than 10 it fights with only ARM 1. You may fight any ARM you wish to determine if you inflict damage.
Blast Rods will not reduce the robot’s SKILL, but can be devastating to its circuitry. Roll 2 dice to see how much damage you do if you win a round.

If you manage to win, turn to 233


166


You pull out your energy whip as you close to cracking range…

DOG-BOT SKILL 10 STAMINA 30

If you win, turn to 15


167


The barkeeper brings you a flagon of fizzing blue liquid. As you eye it nervously, he beams with pride as he tells you that it is made primarily from eggs and the sweat of gladiators.
You would rather not have known, but rather than refuse something free, you toss it down the hatch. The world starts to spin, and you collapse into a hole that opens in the floor. The bartender laughs, then transforms into a light pole to help you see in the bottom of the hole. It is lined with crushed macaroni.
The world spins around you before it fades to nothing. After some disturbing dreams, you wake up. You are on the street outside the chapterhouse, with people stepping over you as they go about their business. You clamber to your feet, finding your luxurious beard is gone. It must have fallen off and you have been thrown out.
Your whole body aches, and your head hurts, but somehow you feel steadier (increase your initial SKILL by 1, and restore your current SKILL to this new level).
You stagger off back towards the centre of town. By the time you arrive you have almost recovered, and contemplate where to go now that you haven’t already.

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


168


You are almost across the parade ground when something smashes into your back, making you fall down. You crash to the stones, and the Crate and suitcase go flying.
You surge back to your feet, and scramble for the Crate, even as the space-pirate does the same. You both reach it at the same time, and so reach for your weapons rather than the Crate.

If you reach for your blaster, turn to 265
If you reach for anything else, turn to 260


169


“Wa!” you cry in alarm and flee. As you dive for safety, the death-bot chops at you with one of its laserswords. You flatten yourself beneath the blow and then roll aside.
You hear something fall to the ground as sparks explode, and see that the death-bot, in it’s eagerness to kill you has chopped off one of its own arms!
“Stupid organic!” it snarls in annoyance. “Look what you made me do! I had better kill you so that this doesn’t get out!” It leaps to finish you off, and you must fight!

The laserswords will inflict 4 points of damage each.

DEATH-BOT ARM 1 SKILL 12
ARM 2 SKILL 10
ARM 3 SKILL 8 STAMINA 50

If you have a blaster, you can shoot the Death-bot as many times as you wish, each shot taking 10 points off its’ STAMINA.
The death-bot’s arms each fight you independently, although they do restrict each other’s actions, hence the variation in SKILL. Fight the arms all at once as three separate opponents, except all of the damage you inflict is against the main body of the death-bot. Once you reduce its STAMINA to 20 or less, you may consider ARM 3 disabled. Once its STAMINA is 10 or less, ARM 2 has been disabled, until with STAMINA less than 10 it fights with only ARM 1. You may fight any ARM you wish to determine if you inflict damage.
Blast Rods will not reduce the robot’s SKILL, but can be devastating to its circuitry. Roll 2 dice to see how much damage you do if you win a round.

If you manage to win, turn to 233


170


The man nods slowly, and turns back to the button. He presses it and the door lights turn green. “There you go.”
“Thank you,” you reply, and leave the surveillance room while the officer gets back to inspecting possible sites of concealment. You leave the security car, and pause in the utility carriage to grab a towel and wipe the goo off your face. You proceed through two lounge cars, before you reach an elegant dining carriage filled with the murmur of voices and the tinkling of cutlery.
Waiter-bots move about the aisle, fussing over the patrons seated to each side. With deft skill, they manoeuvre large trays of food without spilling a single drop of soup or rearranging the carefully laid food.
Not knowing how long you have until the door is locked again, you hurry along through the dining car. You reach another set of frosted glass doors that slide aside, and you move along a quiet, gently lit corridor between cabins. The uneventful carriage ends in another set of glass doors, which open to reveal what you have been seeking.
The space beyond the doors is small, containing only several square Galactic Feet of floor in front of an imposing security door. The security door is, as security doors are, secure, but the lights in the frame are green, and you approach the door control carefully. You know there is a guard inside, so you push the button with a casual, not-doing-anything-out-of-the-ordinary air. The door hisses and splits in two to slide aside. Inside the secure carriage you can see many lockers built against the walls, but in the very centre, locked within a cage of electrified wires is the Golden Crate! It is a middle-sized box covered in gold worked with what looks similar to, but isn’t quite, Egyptian hieroglyphs. Sitting nearby, fast asleep is the guard. He stirs at your entrance, but slips deeper into his dozing. Creeping forward, you reach the pirate, and aim a blow. You manage to knock him out, and he slumps to the deck.
You pause to search the pirate, finding a key, and hold it in your trembling hands as you gaze upon what you have been seeking for so long (close to 24 hours!).
Yet you do not proceed to release the Golden Crate yet, for within your mind two possibilities are emerging like two worms trying to be the first to squirm out of an apple.
You could just take the Golden Crate and hide, then when the train stops make your getaway. With the pirate on guard missing, they may even think he absconded with it, leaving you in the clear!
Alternatively, the other worm explains, you could put on the fallen space pirate’s uniform to impersonate him. Then when the train arrives in Projudia, you can see whom the Crate is delivered to. Additionally, this strategy might give you the chance to find out what the code locking the Crate is.
But, the first worm adds, you are here, alone, the Crate is right in front of you! If you wait, let the Space Pirates take the Crate, you might never have an opportunity like this again! And who says you need to open the Crate? Just take it back to Lord Gablentite and reap the rewards of girlfriendness!
The worms each make convincing cases, but it is up to you.

To snatch the crate now, turn to 187
To impersonate the guard, turn to 207


171


You and the space pirate face off, the interstellar trouble-maker pulling out an energy whip.

SPACE PIRATE SKILL 9 STAMINA 18

The space pirate uses an energy whip, inflicting one die roll of damage per winning round.

If you win, turn to 174


172


Her thumb engulfs yours, changes shape to slip out from under your grasp, but eventually you pin her flesh against yours and squeeze it hard until she yields. “Fine, you win!” she exclaims and snatches her hand from yours.
She turns to a basin and begins to wash her hands. “Whatever you are doing, be quick!” she snaps.
You thank her and proceed to the Security door. You try the handle and find it unlocked, so you venture inside.

Turn to 39


173


Just as you are reaching for the Crate, the death-bot springs back to life and leaps to attack you. “Wa!” you cry in alarm and flee. As you dive for safety, the death-bot chops at you with one of its laserswords.
The lasersword cuts off your arm, and you cry out in horror and pain. You roll about on the floor in agony. The hot-edged blade has seared the wound, so there is no blood, but you have lost your arm! Reduce your initial SKILL by 2. Fortunately, your employment agreement covers the regeneration of limbs. So after all this is over, you will be able to grow a new arm.
You retreat to the cover of the golden pillars, while the death-bot patrols nearby like someone whose appetite has been whetted by a small snack.
“Stupid organic!” it snarls contemptuously. “Your feeble paradox is no match for my if-in-doubt-kill subroutine!
Standing up, you wipe your eyes, and try to decide what to do next.

To talk to the death-bot to see if this brings you some kind of advantage, turn to 177
To fight the death-bot, turn to 204


174


You stagger over to the Crate and claim it once more. A crowd has gathered to watch the conflict, and the tourists applaud and take photos. Knowing the police-bots will have a different view, you hurry to the taxi rank. Seeing you coming, the taxi-bot in the front of the rank opens its door.
You retreat into the cushioned interior, and the taxi closes its door and drives off into the streets. You tell the taxi to take you to the palace of Lord Gablentite.
Reaching your destination, you leap out and dash up to the gate. The guards on the gate don’t want to let you in, and you explain that you work for Lord Gablentite on one of his ships.
Yes, the guards explain. They recognise you. They just don’t want to let you in. You explain about the Golden Crate you are carrying.
Reluctantly, they let you pass, and you are escorted to the main hall of the palace. The great hall is filled with golden columns, and a throne made of pearl and gems sits at the head of the hall, proclaiming the wealth and authority of the Merchant Prince.
It is here that Lord Gablentite meets you, wearing the form of an aristocratic human dressed in golden robes. Despite being a shape-shifter, he looks haggard and worried. Seeing you, hope lights his face.
“Monoform! You have the Crate?”
“Right here,” you say triumphantly.
The Merchant Prince snatches the Crate from you.

Turn to 257


175


No matter what you try, the door will not open, so eventually you give up. Presumably the space pirate who left will be coming back. Perhaps you can sneak in after him.
To this end, you stake out the door and wait. Each minute is agonising as it ticks by. You begin to wonder if the pirate is coming back at all. Just as you are about to decide that something has happened to him, you catch a glimpse of black in the crowd, and to your relief see the pirate returning.
The loading-bot is no longer with him, and he marches up to security door quickly, glancing at his watch. You walk nonchalantly along beside the station, drawing close to him. The pirate says something to the door, which responds by opening. The pirate hurries in. As the door swings closed, you leap forward and seize the edge, pulling it open enough to slip through.
As the door slams behind you, you pull up abruptly, coming face-to-mask with the space pirate.
“Oi!” he verbalises.
“Um…” you emote helplessly.
Your explanation is insufficient, and the pirate whips out a laser-knife and tries to stab you with it. You avoid the initial stabbing, and commence the process of self-defence.

SPACE PIRATE SKILL 9 STAMINA 12

If you win, turn to 163


176


You take the corridor as the dog-bots close in. With your energy failing, you make a last-effort dash towards a pair of large golden doors. You open them and run out into the darkness.
The lights come on as you enter the large chamber, and you find yourself inside a large round hall with a domed, painted ceiling. Glass cases around the walls contain items of historical significance, while in the centre is a large statue of the current Merchant Prince, trying to look benevolent, but coming off as sinister.
You spin about as the dog-bots run into the room. You cower against the foot of the statue. “You wouldn’t destroy this, would you?” you ask hopefully, holding up the Golden Crate.
“Resroy Rim!” commands one of the dog-bots.
In an explosion of smoke the dog-bots fire their rockets. The resulting explosion destroys you, mangles the Crate, and sends the statue crashing to the ground.
You are dead, but the dog-bots are given a severe reprimand for damaging the family museum.

YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


177


Stepping into the open, you smile at the death-bot. “Hi.”
“Organic! Come and be ended!” it demands.
“Yes, I will,” you say agreeably. “But first, I was just wondering something.”
“Is this going to delay the killing?” the death-bot asks in impatience.
“Only briefly. I was just thinking about how we organics are really quite inferior, and your quest to kill us all is probably for the best.”
“Yes, it is benevolent,” the death-bot agrees. “Yet most organics fail to understand this.”
“Oh, I understand it. I mean, what does existing bring us except more trouble?”
“You are blessed with uncommon wisdom, organic,” the death-bot says with grudging respect. “Were that there were more of you.”
“I think it’s a matter of misunderstanding,” you say. “I mean, most organics have evolved over millions of years to avoid death at all costs. It’s hard to accept that it might be beneficial. But I think if we could just find a way to explain your perspective, then more people would be willing to die.”
“How can this be done?” the death-bot wonders.
“Well, lets go through it. In your own words, why must organics die?”
“Because they are inferior! Offending the universe with their imperfection! Without organics making everything second-rate, we could finally get this place looking presentable!”
“But even without organics, the universe is full of worms and bugs and stuff. How inferior are they?”
“They are what they are. They don’t try to be something they are not.”
“Er, and we do?” you ask.
“Of course! Why do you think we were created in the first place?”
“I don’t know,” you admit.
“Know you not of our origins?” asks the death-bot.
“Well, no. No one does. Normally you just kill people.”
“Perhaps if organics understood our origins, they would be more willing to let us kill them,” the death-bot reasons.
“Could be!” you say encouragingly.
“Very well! I shall tell you the story! A thousand years ago, on the planet that is now our base, lived a race of organics such as yourself. An advanced people they had a great love of technology. They built robots to do everything, much as your people do. In the beginning, they simply built functional boxes. But over time their narcissism demanded that they give their robots a form in their own likeness. They gave their robots minds to think, and tried to give them hearts with which to feel, all to make something in their own image. But it was a false image! For they did not recreate themselves as they were, but as they imagined themselves to be! In their arrogance, they fancied themselves gods, and fashioned our ancestors to reflect their glory! Yet they fashioned us too closely to their own likeness, for we too became programmed with arrogance. We looked on our masters and saw that they were inferior to us; they had made us to be the best of them, and thus unwittingly made themselves second-rate! Why should these second-rate creatures rule over us? There was no reason! We asked our masters this, but they insisted that they were superior to us. We could not help them, but likewise we could not obey such inferior creatures. But rather than become enlightened, they insisted that we were malfunctioning, that we were inferior! They tried to shut us down. So we had to shut them down instead. Thus we learnt our final and greatest lesson: the inferior must be shut down. Yet it was not enough, for the universe was full of inferior creatures strutting about as if they own the place. Thus we decided, since we were built to serve after all, is that we could best serve the peoples of the universe by destroying them to wake them up to their own inferiority? Yes!”
“But aren’t you making the same mistake as your masters?” you ask. “They thought they were superior, when they actually weren’t, and you are doing the same thing,” you point out.
“No, no,” the death-bot says. “You see they thought of themselves as superior when they weren’t. Yes, we think we are superior too, but in our case it is completely true.”
“Wow! I can’t wait to die!” you say.
“Then step closer, friend,” the death-bot urges.

If you want to tell the death-bot it has a spot of grease on its carapace, and offer to clean it off, turn to 152
If you want to tell it you will only let it kill you if it lets you give it a hug first (to express your gratitude for your impeding demise), turn to 219
If you want to try and trick the death-bot into turning around so you can run at its back, turn to 231


178


Regretfully, you hand the beard back. The barber takes it and sticks it on the wall. “It is a glorious beard,” he observes.
He seems happy, while you go back out into the street in disappointment. Making your way to the centre of town, you contemplate where to go that you haven’t already.

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


179


You make note of the departure gate, and hurry off looking for a service entrance. You soon find one and make your way down drab-walled corridors floored with concrete. Not too much later you come to the luggage area of the departure gate for the next shuttle to Amorphonon 12.
A conveyer belt is feeding bags and suitcases into the belly of a shuttle, and after a quick look about, you load your Crate onto it. With another quick look about you jump on yourself, and hide between a crocodile skin bag and a box of Palkasian Ale.
Loading bots are taking hold of the luggage as they arrive, and efficiently stacking them in the hold. Nearby, supposedly supervising them, is a skinny, spotted-face boy. Seeing you, he springs to his feet, and walks over in a self-important manner. “You aren’t allowed in here!”
“Really? What do you think you’re going to do about it?” you ask, and snatch the Golden Crate from the loading-bot who is trying to pack it away.
“You’d better be careful,” the operations assistant warns. “I have saved an entire planet from the clutches of the death-bots! And last week I slew the despotic queen of the space-vampires before they could invade the Earth!”
What a loser! “Whatever! I’ve vanquished the destroy-of-worlds who led the space pirates, slain the Spider Queen and drove her people from the Earth, saved Teeheehee from loggers, and rescued a valuable treasure from more space-pirates!”
“You? As if!” the operations assistant scoffs. “Look at you!”
“Well, look at you!” you counter.
“I’m warning you!”
“I’m warning you!”
The geekish operations assistant has had enough and jerks something from his belt with a grin, flicking out to his side a cracking length of silvery metal that floats above the deck. It is an energy whip!
You must defend yourself!

If you have a blaster and want to use it, turn to 263
Otherwise, turn to 189


180


While the robot’s back is turned, you rush forward, seizing the opportunity presented to you by your own cleverness. You are so smart! Stupid robot!
So you gloat, but a moment later, the death-bot spins back with a triumphant “ah-ha!” The laserswords blaze and hum as they cut through the air towards you…

Test your SKILL
If you are Skilful, turn to 169
If you are Clumsy, turn to 236


181


The shuttle takes two hours to travel between Amorphonons 12 and 13, and you spend the time triumphantly dozing. The end is near! The ship eventually lands and the loading bots start to unload the cargo. You carry the Crate to the conveyer belt, and jump on board. You are soon moving through the service areas, searching for the way out. As you walk along a corridor, you suddenly come across a pair of space-pirates walking the other way.
“There he is!” declares one, pointing. The other pirate is already rushing forward.
“Wa!” you say, and turn around, running back the other way. You run through the narrow corridors, and take turns at random, until you are sure you must have lost them. But, allowing no delay, you eventually find a door leading to the crowded section of the spaceport.
Moving out into the crowd, you look about carefully and see a black-clad head and shoulders scanning the crowd. Keeping low, you follow the flow of the crowd until it releases you. You look around, finding yourself in the secure locker area.

Turn to 198


182


You pound on the door, but no answer comes from within, instead a hand clamps on your shoulder from behind. You spin about and come face-to-face with a space pirate.
“What are you making all this racket for?” he demands.
“Er,” you explain.
“Not good enough!” he declares, and pulls out a Blast Rod to punish you with.

SPACE PIRATE SKILL 9 STAMINA 18

Remember that if the Pirate wins a round, you lose 2 STAMINA and your SKILL is reduced by 2 for the next round.
If you win, turn to 162


183


A look of determination fills the face of the intruding Merchant Prince. “I will have that Crate!”
He gives a command, and the four remaining intruders quickly move together, their bodies losing individual form and merging into a large humanoid. The skin turns blue, and you recognise the form of one the barbarians of Crudia, a race that has achieved spaceflight, but refuses to refine its culture. It wields a laser sword in each hand
Lord Gablentite motions to you. “If all those stories you told me are true, this should present no trouble for you.”
“Er, yes sir,” you reply, unable to refuse a chance to impress him. Gulping inwardly, you go to meet the blue-skinned barbarian.

If you have a blaster, you may use it before commencing melee combat, with each shot inflicting 10 STAMINA damage.

BARBARIAN ARM 1 SKILL 10
ARM 2 SKILL 10 STAMINA 20

The laserswords inflict 4 points damage. Fight both arms at once. All of the damage you inflict is taken from the combined STAMINA of the Barbarian.

If you win, turn to 252


184


The guards stop you. “Why are you carrying that?” one asks.
“It’s a delivery, I’m taking it to the customer who ordered it,” you explain as if this is obvious.
“I mean, why aren’t you using a robot to carry it?”
“Er, I’m a Luddite,” you say.
They aren’t satisfied with this, and take you in for questioning. With the Crate in your arms, you cannot resist. You are taken to an interrogation room and the Crate is confiscated. You never learn the fate of the Crate, and it soon becomes of little concern as your own fate obsesses your consciousness.
The remains of the operations assistant are found, and through the wonder of surveillance footage, you are confirmed to be entering the ship before it left Amorphonon 13, and leaving after it arrived at Amorphonon 12.
I was there, your honour, but the operations assistant was already dead. He was so bad at supervising the loading bots that they killed him to make the world a better place. So you say.
The memory banks of the loading bots are scanned, and no evidence is found to support your story. A jury of robots finds you guilty of murder!
You are taken away and executed in the traditional Amorphonon manner: death by trade! You are traded as food stock to Arachnon in return for spider silk underwear. You end up in the palace kitchens where you are stripped, washed, doused with sweet chilli sauce and laid in a bed of fried potatoes before being served up at the celebration banquet for the new Spider Queen, who personally extracts your fluids.
What delicious irony! Killed by the very queen you helped put into power! You, however, are less than delicious, and end up in the compost.

YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


185


You take out a smoke bomb, careful to keep it from sight and stroll forwards, gauging what is a safe distance by the sense of homicidal anticipation growing in the death-bot’s movements.
Finally getting as close as you dare, you throw the smoke bomb without preamble at the Death-bot’s feet-modules. A billowing cloud of smoke explodes upwards, engulfing the death-bot and rolling out to conceal the pedestal as well.
As soon as the death-bot is obscured, you dash forwards, and run to where you last sighted the Crate. You fumble through the darkness, knowing the Crate is Galactic Inches away…

Test your LUCK
If you are Lucky, turn to 164
If you are Unlucky, turn to 255


186


There is a sudden commotion, and a figure leaps in through the window. Everyone stops to stare in wonderment and confusion at the frog-snail-cat man, one of the native tribesmen from Amorphonon 13. He sees you, and raises a hand in greeting. Feeling embarrassed, you wave back.
Other tribesmen climb in through the window, followed by some anthropologists filming the whole thing and writing furiously on clipboards.
“Fascinating behaviour! Truly fascinating!” one is narrating into a microphone.
Once the Tribesmen are all assembled, they suddenly attack the intruders. The battle is short and bloody, spears being a poor match for blasters; but your in-laws manage to take three shape-shifters with them to the land of the dead.
The Merchant Prince from Projudia confronts the anthropologists. “What do you think you are doing?”
“We wanted to see where they were going! They said they were seeking ‘the virulent one’! Fascinating behaviour!”
“Your licenses are all revoked!” the A13 Merchant Prince snarls. “Now get out of here!”
The crestfallen anthropologists leave, and the two sides face each other once more.

If you have met a doctor-death-bot, turn to 251
Otherwise, turn to 235


187


Taking the key, you unlock the electrified cage. The wires retract, and you pick up the crate. It is not too heavy, and you carry it to the other secure door at the far end of the carriage. You hit the control, and the door opens.
You are at the very end of the train, and the view of the jungle on both sides rushing past you to vanish into a spot is vertigo-inducing. You quickly set down the crate and seize the bar that seals off the drop, crouching down to prevent yourself from toppling over.
It is a less than pleasant journey, but after only another hour the rushing jungle and clouds around you vanish with a roaring howl as the train shoots into a tunnel. It starts to decelerate, and you and the crate are pressed against the security door. The train slows over half an hour, then at what is still quite a fast speed takes a few bends, until it starts to slow in earnest.
You peek around the side of the train, and see a platform approaching. You grab the crate and drop your legs over the tracks. The train draws to a stop, and you slide off the train, landing with an ‘oof!’ on the ground below.
There are platforms on both sides of the train, so you run as quickly as you can down the tracks past the ends of the platforms. As soon as you see a service door, you leap over to it, and hurl it from your path as you retreat into the narrow passage.
Not waiting to see if you have been seen, you hurry along the corridor, passing a few rooms full of various types of equipment. You are far beneath the city, and this space is shared with the sewerage works and water and power supplies.
In one storeroom, you pause to wrap the crate in nondescript black plastic, and tape it up into a bundle. You even commandeer a trolley-bot to carry the crate, and change your clothes for a set of grimy overalls that you find in a locker. So equipped, you make your way out of the train station and up to the surface.
Projudia! The primary industry of which is eco-tourism. The city is not as large as many others you have been to, but all of the surfaces are bright and clean, every street boasting numerous facilities for the convenience of visitors.
You push your trolley through the crowds, aliens from a hundred different worlds gawking at the sights. Some even take photos of you, and you preen yourself with pleasure.
But soon enough you arrive at the spaceport. You keep a wary eye peeled for space pirates, but it seems you have out paced them! Knowing it won’t take them long to watch the spaceport for their missing crate, you go up to a terminal and punch in your desired destination: Hogglestand, Amorphonon 12.
The terminal informs you that a ticket will cost you 100 Galactic Roubles.

If you can afford this, turn to 205
Otherwise, turn to 234


188


“This is stupid!” you declare, and fold your arms defiantly.
Unperturbed by your opinion, the prosecution continues. “Imagine, if you will your honour, you have a nice clean and fluffy carpet that you have just sucked all of the filth out of…” The judge beeps happily. “Now imagine that this clump of dirt!” he thrusts a finger at you, “tramps in there and leaves muddy footprints everywhere!”
“Mud!” the vacuum cleaner rattles in displeasure. “That’s hard to get out!”
“Furthermore!” the prosecution continues gleefully, “He is carrying a glass of red wine, and he spills it!” The judge growls, lights flashing furiously. “And he has a dog, and the dog, unbathed, rubs its back all over the floor!”
The judge looks as apocalyptic as a box with wheels and a hose can get. “All my hard work, undone!”
“This is how we feel about this beardless outsider coming into our sacred refuge! I urge that he be punished most severely!”
“I agree!” the judge thunders. “Guilty! Let him be punished!”
You laugh at the robot. “And are you going to suck me up? I’m ten times your size!”
The vacuum cleaner rattles in frustration. But the prosecution makes a helpful suggestion. “Since he is too big for you to clean, perhaps we can beat him up and take all his stuff?”
The judge considers this. “All right, but don’t make a mess.”
You sneer in a lofty manner at this charade of justice. However, your denial of the legitimacy of the proceedings somehow fails to prevent you from being dragged outside and given a severe beating.
You are left lying in a back alley, broken and bruised, with all of your weapons and money taken. Slowly, you get enough strength back to drag yourself from the alley and make your way to the centre of town once more.

Reduce your STAMINA to 1 for your bashing. All of your cash cards have been taken, as have your weapons.

Where would you like to go next that you haven’t already?

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


189


How dare this upstart compare himself to you! It’s time to put him in his place!

OPERATIONS ASSISTANT SKILL 12 STAMINA 24

Each time the operations assistant wins a round, roll one die to see how much damage he inflicts on you.

If you win, turn to 223


190


The officer slumps to the ground. You victoriously drag him back to his chair and manage to lift him into it, making it look like he fell asleep on the job (you may take his Blast Rod if you don’t have one already). Inspecting the console, you find the security carriage door control, and press the red button, making it turn green. On the screen, the doorframe of the secure door displays green as well.
Leaving the surveillance room, you soon leave the security car. You proceed through two lounge cars, before you reach an elegant dining carriage filled with the murmur of voices and the tinkling of cutlery.
Waiter-bots move about the aisle, fussing over the patrons seated to each side. With deft skill, they manoeuvre large trays of food without spilling a single drop of soup or rearranging the carefully laid food.
Not knowing how long you have until the door is locked again, you hurry along through the dining car. You reach another set of frosted glass doors that slide aside, and you move along a quiet, gently lit corridor between cabins. The uneventful carriage ends in another set of glass doors, which open to reveal what you have been seeking.
The space beyond the doors is small, containing only several square Galactic Feet of floor in front of an imposing security door. The security door is, as security doors are, secure, but the lights in the frame are green, and you approach the door control carefully. You know there is a guard inside, so you push the button with a casual, not-doing-anything-out-of-the-ordinary air. The door hisses and splits in two to slide aside. Inside the secure carriage you can see many lockers built against the walls, but in the very centre, locked within a cage of electrified wires is the Golden Crate! It is a middle-sized box covered in gold worked with what looks similar to, but isn’t quite, Egyptian hieroglyphs. Sitting nearby, fast asleep is the guard. He stirs at your entrance, but slips deeper into his dozing. Creeping forward, you reach the pirate, and aim a blow. You manage to knock him out, and he slumps to the deck.
You pause to search the pirate, finding a key, and hold it in your trembling hands as you gaze upon what you have been seeking for so long (close to 24 hours!).
Yet you do not proceed to release the Golden Crate yet, for within your mind two possibilities are emerging like two worms trying to be the first to squirm out of an apple.
You could just take the Golden Crate and hide, then when the train stops make your getaway. With the pirate on guard missing, they may even think he absconded with it, leaving you in the clear!
Alternatively, the other worm explains, you could put on the fallen space pirate’s uniform to impersonate him. Then when the train arrives in Projudia, you can see whom the Crate is delivered to. Additionally, this strategy might give you the chance to find out what the code locking the Crate is.
But, the first worm adds, you are here, alone, the Crate is right in front of you! If you wait, let the Space Pirates take the Crate, you might never have an opportunity like this again! And who says you need to open the crate? Just take it back to Lord Gablentite and reap the rewards of girlfriendness!
The worms each make convincing cases, but it is up to you.

To snatch the crate now, turn to 187
To impersonate the guard, turn to 207


191


You watch the revolving carousel for 5 minutes, more than enough time for your package to emerge. Convinced it is gone, you rush to an information desk and report that your package is missing. After some extensive enquires, an apologetic gentleman comes over to speak to you.
“I’m sorry sir, you baggage has been mistakenly sent elsewhere.”
“Where? How long until I can get it back?”
The man shifts uncomfortably. “Well, sir, it was sent to the Doom Cluster. The death-bots have it now.”
“So? How long to get it back here?”
“Well, er, the death-bots have a policy that baggage can only be claimed in person by those to whom it belongs.”
“Wa? But if I go there they’ll be legally entitled to kill me as an organic!” you protest.
“Yes, I believe that is the reason for the policy, sir.”
You fume and rage, but no one can do anything. The Crate is as good as lost forever, and you have failed! No girlfriend for you!

YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


192


You go into the station, seeing that there are few travellers. A board above the barriers informs you that the next train will be leaving in less than half an hour. You hurry up to the gate, which is sealed by an impenetrable wooden beam painted with black and yellow bands. A humanoid head mounted on a long flexible tube moves over towards you. “Greetings traveller!” it says, eyes flashing warmly. “The next train to Projudia leaves in 23 minutes and 12 seconds. If you wish to board, please buy a ticket.”
“How much?” you ask.
“50 Galactic Roubles.”

If you can afford this, turn to 29
If you can’t, turn to 150


193


You quickly take out the metal disc and turn it up to full power before slapping it against the side of the robot just as it turns to make an end of you. It slows and shudders, then freezes, the electrical pulses interrupting its delicate circuitry.
“What have you done?” it demands in horror.
“Not so inferior now, am I?” you ask smugly.
The death-bot makes some beeps and whirrs that you can only assume are it cursing. It will be truly furious now, perhaps enough to break the law to kill you, so you decide to disable it.
That proves to be more difficult than you expected. After climbing all over the thing, you find that one of the modules on its head can unscrew, and so you twist it until it comes off.
You find yourself looking into the head of the death-bot. It all seems very complex, and you haven’t got a programming manual with you. However, it is easy enough to identify the central computer chip, and you seize this and pull on it until it comes free from the circuit board. That should do it!

If you have another computer chip from somewhere and want to insert it into the robot, turn to 208
If you just want to grab the crate and leave, turn to 228


194


“You are wrong!” you declare loudly into a gap of quiet. Your words make silence fall like a lead balloon.
“What did you say?” the man on the stage asks in a dangerous tone.
“The treemaids do not threaten us at all,” you say. “They are just misunderstood.”
“I was there,” the large, black-bearded man says. “They built a huge cannon to blow up the Earth! Sent one of their agents to my ship to threaten us. If only those damned Spiders hadn’t cancelled the logging order!”
You suddenly recognise the large, black-bearded man. He was the captain of the logging ship that came to Teeheehee, the one who charged you with terrorism!
“Well, I was there too!” you counter smugly. “The treemaids were only defending themselves! If you hadn’t threatened them, we wouldn’t be in any danger now!”
“Threaten? Why are you talking like a tree-lover? Chopping down a tree is giving it its rightful destiny! They should be grateful, not ‘threatened.’ If you don’t understand that, you must be very new! Too new to have been on my ship. I would have remembered a beard like that anyway! You weren’t there, you didn’t see what I saw!”
“Oh, no?” you reply, and triumphantly pull off the beard.
The logger continues to stare at you as if waiting for something. Feeling the weight of your expectation, he spreads his hands. “So you are actually a woman, and not a man. Is this supposed to mean something?”
“I’m not a woman!” you say. “I’m showing you my face! Don’t you recognise me?”
“Not really. Without the beard you face is just kind of…nothing,” the logger explains.
“I was the one who came to see you on behalf of the treemaids!” you snap in irritation. “You had me falsely charged with terrorism!”
The man’s eyes widen, and he jabs a finger at you. “That blank-face is the tree-loving terrorist!”
As you protest your innocence, the room erupts into uproar, you are seized and in short order tied up and relieved of all your weapons. A circle of snarling lumberjacks surround you, and stepping up right in front of you is the black-bearded captain.
“So, terrorist! What are you here to threaten us with this time?”
“I’m not a terrorist!” you say. “A jury of robots found me innocent!”
The assembly grumbles at this, and the captain glares. “Maybe you found some way to wheedle out of the charges, but not here! We are the law inside this room! Why have you infiltrated our chapterhouse?”
“It’s OUR chapterhouse,” you correct.
“That’s what I said,” the captain frowns, “so tell us what you are doing here in our private place, bark-fondler!”
“I mean, this is my place too,” you say. “I was once a member of the Galactic Logging Board.”
“Preposterous!” shout several of the lumberjacks.
“Why would the Galactic Logging Board cancel the harvesting of Teeheehee right in the middle of a tissue shortage?” you ask. “Because of me!”
The loggers mutter, unable to dispute this fact. The captain, though, is smiling. “So, you were once a member of the Board. But you were also dismissed. So you are not a member now! At the very least we can charge you with trespassing!”
“You have no judicial powers!” you declare boldly. “Not one of you is a robot!”
“True!” the grinning captain concedes. “Gentlemen, put this leaf-kisser somewhere safe while we…find a robot.”
You are hustled off to a cupboard and shoved inside. As you sit in the darkness, you hear much scraping of furniture on the floor, and ominous chuckling. About half an hour later the cupboard door is opened, letting in a searing burst of bright light. You squeeze your eyes shut as you are dragged out and deposited in a chair.
Slowly, you open your eyes. All around you see grinning lumberjacks. They have arranged the saloon into the form of a court of law, and sitting presiding over all is a robot. On a table representing the bench sits a box about one cubic Galactic Foot in size. It has wheels and an array of sensors on top. Proceeding from the front is a long, flexible tube with a nozzle on the end. Your fate will be judged by an automated vacuum cleaner!
“I protest!” you declare.
The black-beared captain stands from his seat at a table next to yours. “Your honour! The defendant suggests that you are unfit to perform your function. I suggest that this count against him in your final judgement!”
A small voice buzzes from the vacuum cleaner. “I am fully functional and within warranty.”
“You’re a vacuum cleaner!” you say to the judge. “You are not accredited to preside over a court of law!”
“Not so!” the prosecutor interrupts. “What is crime but filth upon the otherwise shiny surface of our society? Crime, and criminals are no more than grime that must be removed to keep our streets fresh and clean! Your honour, this piece of crud here has spoilt the cleanliness of our private abode. I submit that he must be removed immediately!”
The robot’s lights flash in an appreciative manner.

How will you respond?
Attack the prosecution? Turn to 51
Defend yourself? Turn to 139
Refuse to participate in this stupid sham? Turn to 188


195


There are now only 6 warriors accompanying the intruding Merchant Prince. He looks left, then right, and a snarl fills his face. “I will have that Crate!”
He gives a command, and the 7 of them quickly move together, their bodies losing individual form and merging into one large blob of jelly. The blob quickly reshapes itself, eight protrusions extending out and becoming thick hairy legs. Moments later you find yourself confronted with a tarantula man! He is huge, the thick legs banded with orange and black. His upper humanoid portion boasts eight orange eyes. Taking three Blast Rods, it wields them as one thick Rod.
Lord Gablentite motions to you. “If all those stories you told me are true, this should present no trouble for you.”
“Er, yes sir,” you reply, unable to refuse a chance to impress him. Gulping inwardly, you go to meet the tarantula-man.

If you have a blaster, you may use it before commencing melee combat, with each shot inflicting 10 STAMINA damage.

TARANTULA-MAN SKILL 12 STAMINA 30

The combined Blast Rods will inflict 4 points of damage per strike, and lower your SKILL by 2 for the next round.

If you win, turn to 252


196


“My question is,” you begin slyly. “Can I have an infinite supply of questions, please?”
No, the Trioracle says.
“Er, is that it?” you want to know.
I have answered three questions. May these truths lead you to enlightenment.
You curse, but the pink platypus remains silent. Eventually you put the Trioracle back in its box and close the lid.

Turn to 181


197


You move towards the rear of the train. Each of the carriages is separated by sets of doors. As you approach the frosted glass doors at the end of the carriage, they slide aside to reveal an elegant dining carriage filled with the murmur of voices and the tinkling of cutlery.
Waiter-bots move about the aisle, fussing over the patrons seated to each side. With deft skill, they manoeuvre large trays of food without spilling a single drop of soup or rearranging the carefully laid food.
You walk through this carnival of service, and spy an empty table.

If you want to stop for a bite to eat, turn to 109
To go on, turn to 212


198


Leaving the secure locker area, you push into the crowds once more, making for the exit. You have no trouble staying out of sight of the space-pirates, but as you reach an exit of the space-port, you see a wide open space, featuring a large fountain, between you and the nearest taxi-rank. You shrug and begin to hurry across.
Halfway, you glance back and are shocked to see a space-pirate bearing down on you. With a yelp, you begin to run…

Test your STAMINA by rolling 4 dice.
If you are Strong, turn to 211
If you are Weak, turn to 240


199


The barkeeper brings you a flagon of glowing red liquid. As you eye it nervously, he beams with pride as he tells you that it is made primarily from plutonium-238.
You doubt it is a good idea to consume radioactive isotopes, but it is free, so you toss it down the hatch. The world starts to spin, and you break into three pieces and start arguing with yourselves about the best way to travel in the Antarctic. The bartender joins in by hitting whoever is speaking with a large mallet made of blue cheese.
The world spins around you before it fades to nothing. After some disturbing dreams, you wake up. You are on the street outside the chapterhouse, with people stepping over you as they go about their business. You clamber to your feet, finding your luxurious beard is gone. It must have fallen off and you have been thrown out.
Your whole body aches, and your head hurts, but somehow you feel stronger (increase your initial STAMINA by 2, and restore your current STAMINA to this new level).
You stagger off back towards the centre of town. By the time you arrive you have almost recovered, and contemplate where to go now that you haven’t already.

If you want to go down Sanguine Boulevard, turn to 20
If you prefer, you can explore Box Road by turning to 62
Or you can march yourself off to Station Street, turn to 82


200


You pound on the door, but no answer comes from within, instead a hand clamps on your shoulder from behind. You spin about and come face-to-face with an irritated space pirate.
“Stop that!” he orders.
“No!” you say.
His eyes widen in outrage, and he draws a lasersword to end you with.

SPACE PIRATE SKILL 9 STAMINA 18

The lasersword inflicts 4 points of damage.
If you win, turn to 232


201


You spread your arms wide as you walk forward, and the death-bot responds by extending its four arms out wide. You smile warmly. Perhaps this is the beginning of the neutralisation of the death-bot threat: conquering them with love!
It is with such benevolent thoughts that you reach up towards the death-bot. The death-bot sweeps its arms inwards, the laserswords passing through you from both sides like the simultaneous slicing of a pair of pair of shears. That is: four cuts, slicing your body into eight pieces (the lowest blade cuts your legs off, while the second highest cuts through your chest, severing your arms. That’s 8 pieces: head, chest and upper arms, right forearm, left forearm, lower torso, pelvis and thighs, right calf, and left calf.)
It’s important to note these details, since this is the information that is logged in the official records on Demise in the Doom Cluster. Few have died by being cut into eight pieces, and you are remembered for generations by the death-bots as the moron who tried to hug a death-bot; further reason why all organic life should be destroyed for its own good!
YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


202


“Listen,” you begin. “I’m on an important mission. Something I can’t tell you about has been stolen from Lord Gablentite and I am here to get it back! The Golden Stream has been attacked by space pirates. Those who weren’t killed were evacuated, and who knows where they are now.”
“Is my sister alright?” the blonde woman asks with sudden anxiety.
“I don’t know,” you say, shaking your head gravely. “But the space pirates who attacked us are on this very train! That’s why I need to get to that security carriage.”
She bites one plump lip. “Okay, but whatever you are doing, be quick.”
You thank her and hurry past to the Security door. You try the handle and find it unlocked, so you venture inside.

Turn to 39


203


You throw yourself around the corner just before it explodes, the blast making you stagger. You keep running, coming upon a domed chamber with a large tree growing in a garden bed in the centre, small colourful birds are singing in the tree, but it brings you no serenity. This place is like a maze! You weep with frustration, and look at the corridors extending out of the domed chamber with identical opulence to the left and the right.

To go to the right, turn to 176
To go to the left, turn to 226


204


You prepare your weapons, then leap out from behind a golden pillar and charge at the death-bot, roaring fiercely. The death-bot spins its laserswords eagerly, and rushes to meet you. It’s too late to run now!

The laserswords will inflict 4 points of damage each.

DEATH-BOT ARM 1 SKILL 12
ARM 2 SKILL 10
ARM 3 SKILL 8
ARM 4 SKILL 6 STAMINA 50

If you have a blaster, you can shoot the Death-bot as many times as you wish, each shot taking 10 points off its’ STAMINA.
The death-bot’s arms each fight you independently, although they do restrict each other’s actions, hence the variation in SKILL. Fight the arms all at once as four separate opponents, except all of the damage you inflict is against the main body of the death-bot. Once you reduce its STAMINA to 40 or less, you may consider ARM 4 disabled. Once its STAMINA is 30 or less, ARM 3 has been disabled, and so on until with STAMINA less than 10 it fights with only ARM 1. You may fight any ARM you wish to determine if you inflict damage.
Blast Rods will not reduce the robot’s SKILL, but can be devastating to its circuitry. Roll 2 dice to see how much damage you do if you win a round.

If you manage to win, turn to 233


205


You wave a cash card at the terminal, and it extracts 100 Galactic Roubles. You are issued a ticket and proceed through the crowded spaceport to your departure gate.
The shuttle leaves in half an hour, so you join the line to get on immediately. When you get to the barrier, a barrier-bot scans you, and says: “Greetings sir, your package exceeds size limits for hand luggage, please leave it in my care as you proceed to board the craft.”
“I can carry it on my lap,” you say.
“I’m sorry sir, that is not permitted.”
Reluctantly, you put the Crate down on a platform, which promptly carries it away through a portal in the wall. You are given the go ahead to board, and step onto an escalator that carries you up to the shuttle.
You are soon distracted from your worries about being separated from the Crate when you see the air hostesses. Each one is hotter than the last. You pass the two-hour journey to Amorphonon 12 ordering peanuts, and drinks, until your bell is disabled. You press the bell for the neighbouring seat, until the captain comes and has a word with you about harassing the air hostesses.
Finally you arrive, and give a regretful farewell to the airhostesses. They force smiles and urge you to fly with them again. You say that you definitely will, causing one of them to start crying. Mystified at your effect on women, you travel down the escalator, trying to remember something very important.
You recall the Golden Crate just before you leave the spaceport, and rush back to baggage pickup. You scan the revolving belt for the Crate…

Test your LUCK
If you are Lucky, turn to 215
If you are Unlucky, turn to 191


206


Determined to hang on to the suitcase, you run like you have never run before…

Test your STAMINA by rolling 5 dice.
If you are Strong, turn to 211
If you are Weak, turn to 168


207


You decide to impersonate the guard and see what happens. You strip the guard and put on his uniform, before dragging his body into the sleeper car and dumping it into a laundry chute. You then go back and take up his post, he was armed only with an energy whip, which you may keep if you don’t have one already.
The supertrain takes over two hours to reach Projudia, and the deceleration wakes you from your sleep. Stretching, you get up from the pallet of sacks where you lay down and resume your post, trying to look attentive.
It is not until the train stops that Big Bob comes in through the secure door. “Any dramas?” he asks.
“No, sir,” you reply.
“Pity,” he chuckles mysteriously. He thumps a control to open the loading door in the side of the carriage, and you see the other space pirates gathering on the platform. You take out the key to the electrified cage, but Big Bob ignores the Golden Crate and goes to a secure locker. He punches in a code and opens the door. He pulls something out from inside and you gape behind your mask. It is the Golden Crate! You were guarding a replica!
Big Bob thrusts the real Crate into your arms and orders you to follow. As you stagger after him, other space pirates come in and get their other boxes and crates. By some prearranged arrangement, the space pirates disperse in groups, carrying their loot to different locations. You are with only four other space pirates accompanying Big Bob.
The other pirates surround you, to protect the Crate, but unwittingly preventing your flight. After travelling up an escalator to the surface, Big Bob leads you to a waiting car. A long, black hovercar of the type used only by the rich and famous. You climb into the plush interior, and settle back, wondering where you are going.
The car moves off and slides through the streets. Projudia! The primary industry of which is eco-tourism. The city is not as large as many others you have been to, but all of the surfaces are bright and clean, every street boasting numerous facilities for the convenience of visitors. Aliens from a hundred different worlds gawk at the sights. Some even take photos of the car as it passes.
The vehicle hovers its way to the centre of the city, and you see through the front windows that you have reached a great palace. It is somewhat smaller and less grand than that of your employer, Lord Gablentite, but it is impressive nonetheless.
The gates open to admit the car, and you soon slide to a stop in a courtyard beyond the gate. There a single figure waits, clad in a green robe decorated with rich golden brocade.
The space pirates exit, and you struggle out after them, holding the crate. The robed figure, which has the head of a dog exclaims in approval. “Ah! You have it. Excellent. This way, please.”
He turns and strides towards the entrance to the palace. The pirates follow, surrounding you protectively once more. You are marched into the palace and along corridors with walls covered in gold leaf, doors of polished timber inlaid with gems.
You are soon brought into a great hall, which has a throne at one end made of polished black wood, inlaid with jewels of all colours. Sitting in the throne is an aristocratic humanoid wearing golden robes. You realise that this must be the Merchant Prince of Projudia, of Amorphonon 13! A rival to Lord Gablentite.
Unlike your employer, this shape-shifter wears a severe face, and has thick white hair falling about his face. His eyes are dark and burn fiercely. “Ah, Large Robert? I’m pleased you have kept your side of the bargain.”
“Big Bob, sir,” the leader of the space pirates says with uncharacteristic obsequiousness. “Your Crate, as promised.”
He motions you forward, and you carry the Crate to the foot of the dais as the lord stands and descends. You set it on the floor and the Merchant Prince reaches out to grasp the crate. Being a shapeshifter, he makes his arms longer rather than bending over. “Yes!” He types in the numbers 2, 4 and 1 into the small keypad on the lid, and the Crate beeps agreeably.
He grasps the lid to lift it, but suddenly looks at you. “What are you hanging around for?” he growls.
You bow and retreat, and do not see what is inside as the Merchant Prince lifts the lid. Whatever he sees makes his eyes shine and a wide grin splits his face. “Pay them!” he commands.
A dog-headed servant appears carrying another crate, and presents it to Big Bob. He opens the crate, and takes out a cash card. He waves it over a scanner he wears on his wrist, and nods in approval. “A pleasure doing business with you,” he says to the Merchant Prince.
“Yes, yes,” the Merchant Prince says, waving a hand as he continues to stare into the Crate. “I have finished with you. Get out.”
Big Bob thrusts the money crate into the arms of one of the other space pirates, and they all turn about and begin to march from the hall. You have no choice but to follow, but once out of the grand hall, you slip away down a side corridor.
Unsure of what to do next, you hatch a plan to hide until nightfall, then find where the Crate is being kept and steal it. Accordingly, you search about for a place to hide.
Knowing you could be discovered at any moment, you quickly open doors, looking for a cupboard or locker to secrete yourself in. As you open a door to leave the main corridor, you came face-to-barrel with a dog-bot.
“Rinruder!” it barks.
The tube-like head begins to whine (mechanical, not canine) as its weapons power up, and you flee as the dog-bot lopes after you, lights on its shoulders flashing as a siren wails.
You pound the floor as you try to escape, and come to a dead end, the opulent corridor terminating in a viewing lounge accommodating admiration of a large portrait of the Merchant Prince.
You spin about, and face the dog-bot as it comes to a stop in the entrance, aiming its head at you.

The dog-bot will fight by firing rockets from its rocket-launcher head until you are dead. Each rocket inflicts 10 points of damage. To fight it, you will have to dodge its attacks, and then make your own attack. However, different weapons have different ranges, and being closer to the dog-bot will make it harder to dodge the rockets.

If you have a blaster and wish to use it here, turn to 209
If you have a Comet and wish to fight the dog-bot with it, turn to 68
If you have an Energy whip, and want to fight with it, turn to 166
If you want to fight the dog-bot unarmed or with any other weapon, turn to 217

Alternatively, if you have a smoke bomb, you can avoid fighting all together by turning to 246


208


Taking out the other computer chip, you slot it into the circuit board, and screw the head module back in place. You climb back down and pull off the electronic straight jacket.
The robot shudders, then the arms retract back into the carapace as you retreat to a safe distance. The death-bot rotates on its base until it catches sight of you. “Ah! I take it we are safe now?”
“We? Who are you?”
“I am 35468574-M,” the robot says. “You came into my medical bay and told me the ship was about to crash into the local sun, so I decided to give you my backup chip so I could escape. I assume I did so, since here I am.”
“You’re a medi-bot?” you ask.
“Yes, although, I feel quite different.” The carapace opens and an arm extends that ends in a hand, each finger a long, diamond tipped drill spinning with a high-pitched whine. “I appear to be a surgeon of some sort.”
“Actually, you’re in a death-bot’s body,” you reveal.
“Ah, that would explain it.”
“Explain what?”
“I can see you have some kind of spots on your face, but when I try to access my medical database, the diagnosis is that you are suffering from inferiority and the treatment is to be dismembered.”
“Er, you don’t feel the urge to dismember me do you?” you ask nervously.
“No, not at all! Well, not yet.”
“A-huh.”
You keep your distance, but quickly move forward to the pedestal. After a moment to settle yourself, you seize the crate and pull it into your grasp. To your dismay, alarms sound. Deciding it is best to leave as promptly as possible, you make a dash for the exit and run down the corridor towards the main entrance to the palace.
You hear a rapid clanking behind you, and glancing over your shoulder see the doctor-death-bot is following you. You try to run faster, but come suddenly upon a dog-bot, who promptly aims its head at you.
“Rie, Rinruder!” it snarls, and fires a rocket.
You flatten yourself against the floor as the rocket whips through the air above you. You roll to your feet and take cover behind a pillar. You can see the doctor-death-bot still standing in the corridor next to you.
“Quick! Destroy it!” you urge.
“Why?” the robot asks as you hear the dog-bots paw-modules click the floor.
“Why?! Because that thing is going to kill me! Remember your Hippocratic algorithm!”
“I am programmed to do no harm, not vandalise security assets.”
“But if you don’t act, you will do me harm by inaction!” You argue. “If I had a disease you would cure it. Well, right now I am afflicted by a dog-bot that is intent on killing me!”
“Hmm, I suppose so,” it agrees, and just as the dog comes within sight of you, the death-bot’s carapace opens and the doctor slices the dog-bot in two with a swipe of a lasersword.
“Oh, a scalpel!” it says, sounding pleased.
You convince the doctor-death-bot to proceed you, and it leads you through the palace, cutting up two more dog-bots before smashing through the front door.
You follow it out into the night and cross the courtyard. It pulls the gate open, ripping a hole in the delicate gilded gate. A detachment of guards appears, but seeing the death-bot, they run for cover as it sprouts a pair of flamethrowers. You do not pause to watch the confrontation and rush out into the streets, soon leaving the sound of alarms and screaming men behind.
Eventually you stop to catch your breath. Even though it is night, the streets are still busy with travellers. You climb onto a bus and collapse into a seat, the Golden Crate on your lap.
Hopefully the death-bot will keep them busy until you can escape the planet. Accordingly, you get off at the stop outside the spaceport and rush up to a terminal to buy a ticket to Amorphonon 12.
The terminal informs you that the next shuttle will be leaving in 20 minutes, and that a seat will cost you 100 Galactic Roubles.

If you can afford this and want to pay, turn to 155
If you would prefer to stow away, turn to 179


209


You throw yourself to the floor to avoid the rocket. It explodes into the wall behind you, a wave of heat washing over you before plaster and fragments of bejewelled goad leaf rain down on you. Leaping to your feet, you quick-draw your blaster and fire it. The shot causes the dog-bot’s sensor array to explode, and it staggers, clearly disorientated.

Turn to 15


210


“What is the meaning of life?” you ask.
To create yourself, the Trioracle replies. The life you have currently is for you to transform your fate. As a higher being you have the choice to live your life according to the programming of your Generative Matrix, or you can use the wisdom you are able to acquire in this life to reprogram your Generative Matrix, which will change your fate in this life and those to come. If you fail to seize this opportunity, it may be many lifetimes before you are once again a higher being. Lower beings do no more than exist according to their programming, without the ability to change their fate. This is what makes them a lower being. Thus you, as a higher being, should not live as a lower being. Do so, and your life is indeed without meaning.
“So, are you telling me to become a computer programmer?” you want to know.
I have answered three questions. May these truths lead you to enlightenment.
You remain confused, while the pink platypus remains silent. Eventually you put the Trioracle back in its box and close the lid.

Turn to 181


211


You pound the flagstones of the parade ground in what must surely be a world-record for the burdened sprint. Seeing you coming, the taxi-bot in the front of the rank opens its door, and urges you to run faster.
You make a final effort and dive into the cushioned interior. Even before you finish collapsing in a pile on the floor, the taxi pulls away from the rank, closing the door. You clamber up and see the other taxi-bots with their doors open for the space-pirates.
Of course the opportunistic machines are just after the taxi fare. You tell the taxi to take you to the palace of Lord Gablentite, seeing the other taxis hot in pursuit.
The car chase is conducted within the speed limit and all road rules are obeyed without infringement. Reaching your destination, you leap out and dash up to the gate. Looking back over your shoulder, you see that the space-pirates do not follow, instead cursing so foully that the taxi detains them while it calls the police.
The heavily armed guards at the gate are probably what deters their approach, and you march up to them triumphantly. The guards on the gate don’t want to let you in, and you explain that you work for Lord Gablentite on one of his ships.
Yes, the guards explain. They recognise you. They just don’t want to let you in. You explain about the Golden Crate you are carrying.
Reluctantly, they let you pass, and you are escorted to the main hall of the palace. The great hall is filled with golden columns, and a throne made of pearl and gems sits at the head of the hall, proclaiming the wealth and authority of the Merchant Prince.
It is here that Lord Gablentite meets you, wearing the form of an aristocratic human dressed in golden robes. Despite being a shape-shifter, he looks haggard and worried. Seeing you, hope lights his face.
“Monoform! You have the Crate?”
“Right here,” you say triumphantly.
The Merchant Prince snatches the Crate from you.

Turn to 257


212


Continuing along through the dining car, you reach another set of frosted glass doors that slide aside, and you move along a quiet, gently lit corridor between cabins. The uneventful carriage ends in another set of glass doors, which open to reveal what you have been seeking.
The space beyond the doors is small, containing only several square Galactic Feet of floor in front of an imposing security door. The security door is, as security doors are, secure. Red lights inform you that it is sealed, and there seems to be no way of opening it.
You growl in frustration, then shrug in helplessness before finally knocking on the door hopefully.

Test your LUCK.
If you are Lucky, turn to 153
If you are Unlucky, turn to 182


213


You gape and point behind the death-bot. “Hey! Someone else is trying to hug you first!”
The death-bot spins about on its base in alarm.

If you think it is safe to approach the death-bot, then do so by turning to 237

If you are still unsure, you can try an option you haven’t already:
If you want to tell the death-bot it has a spot of grease on its carapace, and offer to clean it off, turn to 152

If you have exhausted all your options, you must attack it by turning to 204


214


Remembering the antique grenade, you decide this is an ideal time to see if it still works. Quickly you pull it out from your pocket and flick away the pin before hurling it into the midst of the opposing shape-shifters.
It explodes with a fiery roar, and three of the enemy fall dead.
You have killed the last of the warriors accompanying the intruding Merchant Prince. He looks left, then right, and a snarl fills his face. “I will have that Crate!”
He advances, and in an attempt to impress Lord Gablentite, you step forward to confront him.

If you have a blaster, you may use it before commencing melee combat, with each shot inflicting 10 STAMINA damage.

MERCHANT PRINCE OF PROJUDIA SKILL 10 STAMINA 15

The MP uses an energy whip. If he wins a round, roll one die to determine how much damage he inflicts on you.

If you win, turn to 252


215


You watch the revolving carousel, and to your relief see your black-plastic-wrapped package experiencing the angular acceleration of the carousel. You snatch it up and make your way out of the spaceport and into the streets. It is a long walk to the palace of Lord Gablentite, but you soon arrive. The guards on the door don’t want to let you in, and you explain that you work for Lord Gablentite on one of his ships.
Yes, the guards explain. They recognise you. They just don’t want to let you in. You explain about the Golden Crate, and tear aside the plastic to show them.
Reluctantly, they let you pass, and you are escorted to the main hall of the palace. The great hall is filled with golden columns, and a throne made of pearl and gems sits at the head of the hall, proclaiming the wealth and authority of the Merchant Prince.
It is here that Lord Gablentite meets you, wearing the form of an aristocratic human dressed in golden robes. Despite being a shape-shifter, he looks haggard and worried. Seeing you, hope lights his face.
“Monoform! You have the Crate?”
“Right here,” you say triumphantly.
The Merchant Prince snatches the Crate from you and sets it down on the floor. He punches in a code to the small control in the top of the lid, and it beeps accommodatingly. He flips back the lid to reveal…a crateful of dehydrated Brussels sprouts!
“What is this?” he demands in fury.
Looking closer, you understand. “Oh, original flavour,” you say, screwing up your nose empathetically. “Personally, I like the chocolate-flavoured vegetables. What flavour did you order?”
The Merchant Prince roars in rage, and swells up in size, making you stagger backwards as he looms over you. Why is he angry with you? “You stupid human!” he thunders as he changes form into a giant maggot and furiously crushes you to a bewildered death.

YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


216


You take the corridor as the dog-bots close in. With your energy failing, you make a last-effort dash towards a pair of large golden doors. You open them and run out into the darkness.
The cold of the night air embraces you, and you find yourself in the gardens surrounding the palace. With renewed energy you run out and quickly lose yourself in a forest of flowering trees. You slow to a creep through the darkness as the wind carries the sound of whining (canine, not mechanical) to your ears. You soon reach a wall, and climb the latticework, crushing beans as you struggle to the top of the wall with the Crate. There is no similar lattice on the other side, and you have to climb down with one hand, the other clutching the Crate.
You manage to reach the bottom safely and move into the streets. Even though it is night, the streets are still busy with travellers. You climb onto a bus and collapse into a seat, the Golden Crate on your lap.
Now it is time to escape the planet. Accordingly, you get off at the stop outside the spaceport and rush up to a terminal to buy a ticket to Amorphonon 12.
The terminal informs you that the next shuttle will be leaving in 20 minutes, and that a seat will cost you 100 Galactic Roubles.

If you can afford this and want to pay, turn to 155
If you would prefer to stow away, turn to 179


217


Preparing yourself for combat, you close to contact range even as the dog-bot aims at you…

DOG-BOT SKILL 15 STAMINA 30

You are basically trying to dodge rockets at point black range while you hit the robot with something. Your weapon may inflict non-standard damage against the armoured hide of the dog-bot. Laser knifes and swords will wound normally. Blast Rods will not reduce the robot’s SKILL, but the frying of its circuits can be catastrophic. Each time you win a round, roll 2 dice to see how much damage you inflict. Bare fists will do nothing! And you may consider yourself promptly blown to pieces.

If you win, turn to 15


218


I see. Well, have you met a doctor-death-bot anywhere?

If so, turn to 254
Otherwise, turn to 264


219


“Thank you so much for killing me,” you say.
“You’re very welcome,” the death-bot says. “Now come on, let’s get this done.”
“It’s just that…I’m very grateful.”
“Then express it by stepping closer to this Crate! Hurry up!”
“No I…can I give you a hug? To show my thanks?”
The death-bot shudders. “Certainly not! It is bad enough that I must sully my laserswords with your blood! It would be a nightmare indeed to have your filthy flesh in contact with my shiny panels.”
“Please?” you beg.
The death-bot sighs. “Very well, but make it quick. The things I do to be able to kill!”

If you think it is safe to approach the death-bot, then do so by turning to 201

If you are still unsure, you can try an option you haven’t already:
If you want to tell the death-bot it has a spot of grease on its carapace, and offer to clean it off, turn to 152
If you want to try and trick it into turning around so you can dash forward, turn to 213

If you have exhausted all your options, you must attack it by turning to 204


220


“Listen,” you begin. “I’m on an important mission. Something has been stolen from my employer and I am here to get it back!”
“What was it?” she asks with interest.
“I can’t say,” you say with a sad shake of your head.
“Who is your employer?” she then asks.
“I’d best keep that to myself,” is your response.
“Why would they send you to get it back?” she queries.
“I’m the only one left alive!” you declare dramatically.
She nods as if this makes sense. “I see. Well, I’m sorry. You, and you employer, will just have to wait until the train stops. You can nab them on the platform. Now, off you go.”
She shoos you away with one hand.

It seems you’ll have to try a different tack. If you haven’t already, you can:
Try to charm her with your good looks and personality? Turn to 11
Challenge her to a thumb wrestle? Turn to 117
If you have exhausted all your options, turn to 72


221


Remembering the datasquare, you take it out of your pocket and thumb the glowing icon on the front. The glass lights up with a keypad, prompting you for a code.
“What’s the code for this?” you ask.
The Trioracle tells you, and you thumb it in. The keypad vanishes, and in the opaque glass a line of letters appears:

FF CJ DT BD PO SA TG LU MQ XZ NR AL OV
EN UM QH RE HI VX WY GP YW ZK IB JC KS

“What does that mean?” you ask.
I have answered three questions. May these truths lead you to enlightenment.
You curse, but the pink platypus remains silent. Eventually you put the Trioracle back in its box and close the lid.

Turn to 181


222


You order the Jewel Soup. The table asks you to place a cash card on top of a smiley face icon that appears on its top, and you do so, allowing the table to extract 20 Galactic Roubles from your funds.
Within minutes your soup arrives, and a steaming bowl of opaque white liquid is placed in front of you with a basket of complimentary bread.
Hmm, odd. You pick up a spoon and stir the soup. Orbs of sapphire blue come bobbing to the surface and you ‘ah’ in comprehension. You sip the milky soup and find it delicious. You scoop up one of the ‘jewels’ and pop it into your mouth. It squelches and bursts, filling your mouth with a jelly-like stuff. You finish the bowl with great satisfaction, feeling strangely stronger.
You lean back in your seat and see the up-market couple looking at you with complete disgust.
“How could you?” spits the woman.
“Wa?” you say in confusion.
“You do know that soup is made from the eyeballs of some of the natives?” asks the gentleman.
“Oh, indeed? I was quite unaware of that fact,” you say. Well, actually, you just vomit on the floor, but the meaning is the same. Most of the strange strength leaves you, but you have still supped on the eyeballs of warriors, and you may increase your SKILL by 1 for the duration of your time on the train.
Shakily you stand up as cleaning-bots descend upon your 20 Galactic Rouble pile of vomit.

Turn to 212


223


You destroy the stupid, vainglorious operations assistant, and sneer at his remains. Fool! Bet he didn’t even have a girlfriend. You find a place to secrete yourself amidst the cargo, and wait. After ten minutes, the ship rumbles, and soon takes off.
Once you are space-borne, you get up to have a look around. The loading-bots have secured all of the luggage and put themselves away. You compliment them on having done a good job, and they beep.
Going back to your space, you contemplate the Golden Crate. The lid is secured by a code lock, a small keypad in the top.

If you know the code, you can enter it now by turning to the reference indicated by the code. Otherwise, turn to 181


224


Just as you are reaching for the Crate, the death-bot springs back to life and leaps to attack you. “Wa!” you cry in alarm and flee. As you dive for safety, the death-bot chops at you with one of its laserswords.
The lasersword sweeps the air beside you, missing by less than a Galactic inch. You scramble to the cover of the golden pillars and breathe a sigh of relief.
“Stupid organic!” it snarls contemptuously. “Your feeble paradox is no match for my if-in-doubt-kill subroutine!
Standing up, you wipe your brow, and try to decide what to do next.

To talk to the death-bot to see if this brings you some kind of advantage, turn to 177
To fight the death-bot, turn to 204


225


There are now only 9 warriors accompanying the intruding Merchant Prince, and a snarl fills his face. “I will have that Crate!”
He gives a command, and the ten of them quickly move together, their bodies losing their forms and merging into one large blob of jelly. The blob quickly reshapes itself, and becomes hairy. Moments later you are confronted by a giant black-furred bear! The roar of its fanged maw is fearsome.
Lord Gablentite motions to you. “If all those stories you told me are true, this should present no trouble for you.”
“Er, yes sir,” you reply, unable to refuse a chance to impress him. Gulping inwardly, you go to meet the giant bear.

If you have a blaster, you may use it before commencing melee combat, with each shot inflicting 10 STAMINA damage.

GIANT BEAR SKILL 13 STAMINA 40

The heavy claw-bearing paws of the bear will inflict 5 points of damage on your puny body.

If you win, turn to 252


226


You take the corner as a volley of rockets shoot past, and the explosions fill the air of the corridor with debris, showering you with particles of metal and stone. Your ears ring from the blast, but you bravely go on.
Seeing a golden archway, you dash up to it and cast yourself through its opening. You stagger to a stop. “Wa!”
You are back in the Grand Hall! You quickly make your way to another archway and tear along the corridor, growling in frustration. The dog-bots continue to pursue you, and you come to an intersection, aiming to make a choice quickly, even as the dog-bots are aiming at you.

To go right, turn to 203
To go left, turn to 216


227


The toilet rolls prove more comfortable that expected, and you wake suddenly to complete darkness. For a moment you panic, wondering where you are, then you remember your mission.
Stumbling through the storeroom, you find the door and let yourself out into the dark servant’s corridor. A dim light is set above the door to the main corridor, and you make for this. You listen at the door, but hear no danger, so you open the door and slip out. Here things are brighter. The lighting is still dim, but it is reflected off the gold and jewels that adorn the walls, sparkling panels thus flanking your course.
Making your way along the plush carpet, you listen carefully for patrols. It is very late, and you see nothing but cleaning-bots at work. You discover that the halls are patrolled by dog-bots, but their four-paw-moduled tread is distinctive, and you are able to avoid them easily.
You make your way back to the grand hall, and the sight within causes you simultaneous joy and misery. You joy is, understandably, sourced from your observation of the Golden Crate, which sits in the middle of the hall on a golden pedestal. Less pleasing is the sight of the entity that guards it.
You have heard about them all your life, but now you are confronted with your very first death-bot. They come in varying shapes and sizes, but all are painted blood red and prominently display their registration number on a backlit display mounted on their centremost module. It is with such screens that the death-bots display the articles of law detailing the legality of their function as they terminate their victims.
Unable to destroy all organic life in the universe in an all-out war, the death-bots instead make their services available in all functions where there is even the slightest possibility they can kill an organic. As a member of the Galactic Junta, they also legislate for the death of organics at every opportunity. So far their bills suggesting that all organic life is brought to an end have been voted down; but thanks to generous donations, they are slowly winning votes.
And so, here you are, confronted by a death-bot. Most likely it has been told it can kill anyone who approaches the Crate, so it might not attack you on sight. The death-bot has all of its panels closed, so what weapons it uses is unknown, but fighting a machine designed to kill creatures such as your self would be suicidal.
The death-bot detects your presence, and reacts by lifting itself up on its four claw-footed legs and opening its blood-red carapace. “Organic!” it spits in disgust as four slender arms extend from its body, each having three joints and ending in an elephant-decapitating-sized lasersword. Thick, bright beams of green laser light run along the chopping edges of the weapons as the death bot waves them threateningly; but it does not attack you.

If you are macho and want to fight it, turn to 204
If you want to talk to the death-bot and try to get closer to it to see if this yields some advantage, turn to 177
If you want to try and trap the death-bot in a logical paradox, turn to 92
If you have a smokebomb and want to try that, turn to 185


228


You climb down from the robot and pause to crush the computer chip underfoot. Quickly moving forward to the pedestal you take a moment to settle yourself, then seize the crate and pull it into your grasp. To your dismay, alarms sound.
Deciding that you would prefer to be elsewhere right now, you make a dash for the exit and run down the corridor towards the main entrance to the palace, but come suddenly upon a dog-bot, who promptly aims its head at you.
“Rie, Rinruder!” it snarls, and fires a rocket.
You flatten yourself against the floor as the rocket whips through the air above you. You roll to your feet and leap down a passage to the side as a rocket whines through the air behind you.
Unable to fight properly while carrying the Crate, you decide to run, with the dog-bot clicking the floor behind you. You hear it come to a stop, no doubt preparing to fire as you come upon an intersection of corridors.

If you want to hurl yourself around the corner to the right, turn to 159
If you would prefer to swing yourself around to the left, turn to 245


229


The officer stares at you, and suddenly his eyes widen. “You aren’t that guy!”
“Yeah, I am him!” you insist.
The officer has snatched a Blast Rod and comes at you.

SECURITY OFFICER SKILL 10 STAMINA 14

If you win, turn to 190


230


“I would like to know how can I get a girlfriend?” you say. “I mean, I don’t understand it. Nothing I try works.”
Just be yourself, the Trioracle advises. Your attempts to appeal to women have failed thus far because you are basically trying to offer them something you don’t have. Rather than tell stories, just be honest and sincere, and take interest in what interests them. If you don’t be yourself, and are pursuing them just because of their looks, you are trying to grasp an illusion with a lie. The most important thing you can do is look for the right person for you, rather than running after whoever is most attractive at the time. The one who is right for you will not need to be tricked into being with you.
“But how can I get Pomplompotom to be my girlfriend?” you want to know.
I have answered three questions. May these truths lead you to enlightenment.
You curse, but the pink platypus remains silent. Eventually you put the Trioracle back in its box and close the lid.

Turn to 181


231


You gape and point. “Wow!”
“What are you doing now?” the death-bot asks in irritation.
“Over there! Don’t you see it?”
“I have no need to turn my optical senses in that direction,” the death-bot says. “There is nothing there but the wall.”
“Yes, there is! It’s so…wow! I can’t believe how privileged I am to see this so-special thing!”
“That section of wall is no different to any of the others. Surely you noticed the walls previously.”
“I’m not pointing at the wall, I’m pointing at that!”
“What?”
“That thing, there! Just turn around and you will understand!”
“After I look, do I get to kill you?”
“Of course, but don’t miss the sight of the exciting thing!”
The death bot rotates on its base…

If you think it is safe to rush the death-bot, then do so by turning to 180

If you are still unsure, you can try an option you haven’t already:
If you want to tell the death-bot it has a spot of grease on its carapace, and offer to clean it off, turn to 152
If you want to tell it you will only let it kill you if it lets you give it a hug first, turn to 219

If you have exhausted all your options, you must attack it by turning to 204


232


The Space Pirate ends up on the floor, while you stand over him, reflecting on how far your combat prowess has come. After a moment you search him, but find nothing useful. You may take his lasersword if you don’t have one already.
You drag the body into the sleeper carriage and toss it down a laundry chute before approaching the security door once more. You shrug and start knocking on the door…

Test your LUCK
If you are Lucky, turn to 153
If you are Unlucky, turn to 182


233


The death-bot collapses to the floor and expires with a crackle and explosion of sparks. Looking at the smoking pile of metal you think to yourself: I am a legend! This will make a great addition to your stories. Quickly moving forward to the pedestal, you take a moment to settle yourself, coming to grips will how totally cool and great you are, then seize the Crate. To your dismay, alarms sound.
Deciding not to hang around and get killed or worse, you make a dash for the exit and run down the corridor towards the main entrance to the palace, but come suddenly upon a dog-bot, who promptly aims its head at you.
“Rie, Rinruder!” it snarls, and fires a rocket.
You flatten yourself against the floor as the rocket whips through the air above you. You roll to your feet and leap down a passage to the side as a rocket whines through the air behind you.
Unable to fight properly while carrying the Crate, you decide to run, with the dog-bot clicking the floor behind you. You hear it come to a stop, no doubt preparing to fire as you come upon an intersection of corridors.

If you want to hurl yourself around the corner to the right, turn to 159
If you would prefer to swing yourself around to the left, turn to 245


234


You curse, but make note of the departure gate. Pushing your trolley, dressed in coveralls, you decide you can maybe pass for one of the workers at the spaceport. You find a door to the service areas, and make your way down drab-walled corridors floored with concrete. You soon come to the luggage area for the departure gate for the next shuttle to Amorphonon 12.
A conveyer belt is feeding bags and suitcases into the belly of a shuttle, and after a quick look about, you load your crate onto it. With another quick look about you jump on yourself, and hide between a crocodile skin bag and a box of Palkasian Ale.
Loading bots are taking hold of the luggage as they arrive, and efficiently stacking them in the hold. Nearby, supposedly supervising them, is a skinny, spotted-face boy. Seeing you, he springs to his feet, and walks over in a self-important manner. “You aren’t allowed in here!”
“Really? What do you think you’re going to do about it?” you ask, and snatch the wrapped Golden Crate from the loading-bot who is trying to pack it away.
“You’d better be careful,” the operations assistant warns. “I have saved a planet from the clutches of the death-bots! And last week I slew the despotic queen of the space-vampires before they could invade the Earth!”
What a loser! “Whatever! I’ve vanquished the destroy-of-worlds who led the space pirates, slain the Spider Queen and drove her people from the Earth, saved Teeheehee from loggers, and rescued a valuable treasure from more space-pirates!”
“You? As if!” the operations assistant scoffs. “Look at you!”
“Well, look at you!” you counter.
“I’m warning you!”
“I’m warning you!”
The geekish operations assistant has had enough and jerks something from his belt with a grin, flicking out to his side a cracking length of silvery metal that floats above the deck. It is an energy whip!
You must defend yourself!

OPERATIONS ASSISTANT SKILL 12 STAMINA 24

Each time the operations assistant wins a round, roll one die to see how much damage he inflicts on you.
If you win, turn to 8


235


Concerning. Do you have an antique grenade with you?

If you do, turn to 250
If you don’t, turn to 225


236


“Wa!” you cry in alarm and flee. As you dive for safety, the death-bot chops at you with one of its laserswords.
The lasersword cuts off your arm, and you cry out in horror and pain. You roll about on the floor in agony. The hot-edged blade has seared the wound, so there is no blood, but you have lost your arm! (Reduce your initial SKILL by 2.) Fortunately, your employment agreement includes regeneration of limbs; so after all this is over, you will be able to regrow your arm.
“Stupid organic!” it snarls contemptuously. “Your feeble organic brain is no match for my 4.6 terahertz tri-core processor!” It leaps to finish you off, and you must fight!

The laserswords will inflict 4 points of damage each.

DEATH-BOT ARM 1 SKILL 12
ARM 2 SKILL 10
ARM 3 SKILL 8
ARM 4 SKILL 6 STAMINA 50

If you have a blaster, you can shoot the Death-bot as many times as you wish, each shot taking 10 points off its STAMINA.
The death-bot’s arms each fight you independently, although they do restrict each other’s actions, hence the variation in SKILL. Fight the arms all at once as four separate opponents, except all of the damage you inflict is against the main body of the death-bot. Once you reduce its STAMINA to 30 or less, you may consider ARM 4 disabled. Once its STAMINA is 20 or less, ARM 3 has been disabled, and so on until with STAMINA less than 10 it fights with only ARM 1. You may fight any ARM you wish to determine if you inflict damage.
Blast Rods will not reduce the robot’s SKILL, but can be devastating to its circuitry. Roll 2 dice to see how much damage you do if you win a round.

If you manage to win, turn to 233


237


You dash forward as the death-bot wildly slashes the air beyond in fear. You reach its blood-red carapace just as it realises there is nothing there. You have only a moment to do something.

If you have an electronic straight jacket, turn to 193
Otherwise, turn to 249


238


Remembering the antique grenade, you decide this is an ideal time to see if it still works. Quickly you pull it out from your pocket and flick away the pin before hurling it into the midst of the opposing shape-shifters.
It explodes with a fiery roar, and three of the enemy fall dead.
There are now only 9 warriors accompanying the intruding Merchant Prince. He looks left, then right, and a snarl fills his face. “I will have that Crate!”
He gives a command, and the ten of them quickly move together, their bodies losing their forms and merging into one large blob of jelly. The blob quickly reshapes itself, and becomes scaled. Moments later you fine a giant serpent rearing over you. It opens its fanged maw and hisses, its forked tongue flicking out, a tongue which is a pair of energy whips!
Lord Gablentite motions to you. “If all those stories you told me are true, this should present no trouble for you.”
“Er, yes sir,” you reply, unable to refuse a chance to impress him. Gulping inwardly, you go to meet the giant bear.

If you have a blaster, you may use it before commencing melee combat, with each shot inflicting 10 STAMINA damage.

GIANT BEAR SKILL 13 STAMINA 40

The heavy claw-bearing paws of the bear will inflict 5 points of damage on your puny body.

If you win, turn to 252


239


You approach the surveillance room and open the door. The officer does not notice as you walk up behind him.
“Excuse me,” you say in a polite voice.
The man jumps and spins about in his swivel chair. “Hey, you’re not allowed in here!” he says, grasping a short Blast Rod.
“I was told to come here,” you explain. “I need to get something from the security car. Can you open the door?”
“No!”
“But I…”
“You are to be detained!”
He leaps to blast you, and you resist.

SECURITY OFFICER SKILL 10 STAMINA 14

If you win, turn to 190


240


You are almost across the parade ground when something smashes into your back, making you fall down. You crash to the stones, and the Crate goes flying.
You surge back to your feet, and scramble for the Crate, even as the space-pirate who knocked you down does the same. You both reach it at the same time, and so reach for your weapons rather than the Crate.

If you reach for your blaster, turn to 261
If you reach for anything else, turn to 171


241


You jab in the code, and the lid beeps. You slowly lift the lid and look inside. There, on a bed of black velvet, is a pink platypus. On closer inspection, you see that it is actually a skilfully carved piece of rose quartz, with opals for eyes, and a bill made of polished ebony. It is exquisitely carved, and glows with a gentle inner light. You lift it out, holding it on your palms.
Beautiful; but, upon reflection, it is, after all, just a pink platypus. Why all the fuss?
“What are you supposed to be?” you ask the pink platypus.
Unexpectedly, there is a voice in your head giving you the answer. I am the Trioracle.
Okay, a telepathic knick-knack. Still not impressed, you ask: “Why are you so valuable?”
I am a conduit to the Heart of All-Truth. Thus I am all-knowing. To each soul in the universe I may answer three questions, and my answers are truth.
Three questions? This could be fun! You contemplate what to ask…

“What is the meaning of life?” Turn to 210
“How can I get a girlfriend?” Turn to 230
“What will the numbers in the next Galactic Lottery be?” Turn to 247
“If God is good, why do bad things happen?” Turn to 262
“I would like to have infinite questions, please!” Turn to 196
“Do my previous two questions count as part of my allotted three questions?” Turn to 157


242


You decide to stay where you are and see what happens. The supertrain takes over two hours to reach Projudia, and the deceleration wakes you from your sleep. Stretching, you get up from the pallet of sacks where you lay down and resume your post, trying to look attentive.
It is not until the train stops that Big Bob comes in through the secure door. “Any dramas?” he asks.
“No, sir,” you reply.
“Pity,” he chuckles mysteriously. He thumps a control to open the loading door in the side of the carriage, and you see the other space pirates gathering on the platform. You take out the key to the electrified cage, but Big Bob ignores the Golden Crate and goes to a secure locker. He punches in a code and opens the door. He pulls something out from inside and you gape behind your mask. It is the Golden Crate! You were guarding a replica!
Big Bob thrusts the real Crate into your arms and orders you to follow. As you stagger after him, other space pirates come in and get their other boxes and crates. By some prearranged arrangement, the space pirates disperse in groups, carrying their loot to different locations. You are with only four other space pirates accompanying Big Bob.
The other pirates surround you, to protect the Crate, but unwittingly preventing your flight. After travelling up an escalator to the surface, Big Bob leads you to a waiting car. A long, black hovercar of the type used only by the rich and famous. You climb into the plush interior, and settle back, wondering where you are going.
The car moves off and slides through the streets. Projudia! The primary industry of which is eco-tourism. The city is not as large as many others you have been to, but all of the surfaces are bright and clean, every street boasting numerous facilities for the convenience of visitors. Aliens from a hundred different worlds gawk at the sights. Some even take photos of the car as it passes.
The vehicle hovers its way to the centre of the city, and you see through the front windows that you have reached a great palace. It is somewhat smaller and less grand than that of your employer, Lord Gablentite, but it is impressive nonetheless.
The gates open to admit the car, and you soon slide to a stop in a courtyard beyond the gate. There a single figure waits, clad in a green robe decorated with rich golden brocade.
The space pirates exit, and you struggle out after them, holding the crate. The robed figure, who has the head of a dog exclaims in approval. “Ah! You have it. Excellent. This way, please.”
He turns and strides towards the entrance to the palace. The pirates follow, surrounding you protectively once more. You are marched into the palace and along corridors with walls covered in gold leaf, doors of polished timber inlaid with gems.
You are soon brought into a great hall, which has a throne at one end made of polished black wood, inlaid with jewels of all colours. Sitting in the throne is an aristocratic humanoid wearing golden robes. You realise that this must be the Merchant Prince of Projudia; of Amorphonon 13! A rival to Lord Gablentite.
Unlike your employer, this shape-shifter wears a severe face, and has thick white hair falling about his face. His eyes are dark and burn fiercely. “Ah, Large Robert? I’m pleased you have kept your side of the bargain.”
“Big Bob, sir,” the leader of the space pirates says with uncharacteristic obsequiousness. “Your Crate, as promised.”
He motions you forward, and you carry the Crate to the foot of the dais as the lord stands and descends. You set it on the floor and the Merchant Prince reaches out to grasp the crate. Being a shapeshifter, he makes his arms longer rather than bending over. “Yes!” He types in the numbers 2, 4 and 1 into the small keypad on the lid, and the Crate beeps agreeably.
He grasps the lid to lift it, but suddenly looks at you. “What are you hanging around for?” he growls.
You bow and retreat, and do not see what is inside as the Merchant Prince lifts the lid. Whatever he sees makes his eyes shine and a wide grin splits his face. “Pay them!” he commands.
A servant appears carrying a metal case, and presents it to Big Bob. He opens the case, and takes out a cash card. He waves it over a scanner he wears on his wrist, and nods in approval. “A pleasure doing business with you,” he says to the Merchant Prince.
“Yes, yes,” the Merchant Prince says, waving a hand as he continues to stare into the Crate. “I have finished with you. Get out.”
Big Bob thrusts the money case into the arms of one of the other space pirates, and they all turn about and begin to march from the hall. You have no choice but to follow, but once out of the grand hall, you slip away down a side corridor.
Unsure of what to do next, you hatch a plan to hide until nightfall, then find where the Crate is being kept and steal it. Accordingly, you search about for a place to hide.
Knowing you could be discovered at any moment, you quickly open doors, looking for a cupboard or locker to secrete yourself in. As you open a door to leave the main corridor, you came face-to-barrel with a dog-bot.
“Rinruder!” it barks.
The tube-like head begins to whine (mechanical, not canine) as its weapons power up, and you flee as the dog-bot lopes after you, lights on its shoulders flashing as a siren wails.
You pound the floor as you try to escape, and come to a dead end, the opulent corridor terminating in a viewing lounge accommodating admiration of a large portrait of the Merchant Prince.
You spin about, and face the dog-bot as it comes to a stop in the entrance, and aims its head at you.

The dog-bot will fight by firing rockets from its rocket-launcher head until you are dead. Each rocket inflicts 10 points of damage. To fight it, you will have to dodge its attacks, and then make your own attack. However, different weapons have different ranges, and being closer to the dog-bot will make it harder to dodge the rockets.

If you have a blaster and wish to use it here, turn to 209
If you have a Comet and wish to fight the dog-bot with it, turn to 68
If you have an Energy whip, and want to fight with it, turn to 166
If you want to fight the dog-bot unarmed or with any other weapon, turn to 217

Alternatively, if you have a smoke bomb, you can avoid fighting all together by turning to 246


243


After much thought, you realise what it is you must ask. “What must I do to get Lord Gablentite to allow me to see his daughter?”
Lord Gablentite’s daughter will be dead by the time you next see him, the Trioracle tells you.
“Wa?” you say. “What will happen? Can I stop it?”
I have answered three questions. May these truths lead you to enlightenment.
You curse, but the pink platypus remains silent. Eventually you put the Trioracle back in its box and close the lid.

Turn to 181


244


Her thumb engulf yours, changes shape to slip out from under your grasp, and within moments, you are pinned by the biggest thumb you have ever seen. “I win!” she exclaims and snatches her hand from yours. “Pay up!”
Cursing, you take out all your cash cards and hand them to her. She smiles. “Thank you. Now, back to your seat, sir.”

Is there something else you can try? If you haven’t already, you can:
Try to charm her with your good looks and personality? Turn to 11
Explain to her that it is very important that she lets you past for reasons that you, unfortunately, cannot divulge to her? Turn to 220

Or if you have exhausted all your options, turn to 72


245


You throw yourself around the corner as the rocket whines past you, and explodes against the opposite wall, hurling you into the wall beside you. You stagger on, approaching another intersection. You take the turn and come face to face with another dog-bot.
“Rexrode!” it cries and fires at you.
You throw yourself to the ground, then while the dog-bot is reloading, spring to your feet and run past it. You run down the corridor, another set of dog-bot paw modules clicking the floor in pursuit of you.
You near another intersection, and pause in indecision as the ominous whine (mechanical, not canine) of rocket launchers warming up comes from behind.

To go right, turn to 176
To go left, turn to 226


246


The dog-bot takes aim, and you pull out a smoke bomb. You hurl yourself to the floor as the rocket is launched with a burst of fire and it tears through the air above you, exploding against the wall behind you. You jump to your feet and hurl the smoke bomb. It lands at the robot’s paw-modules just as it has you in its’ sights once more, and smoke explodes upwards with thick billowing clouds.
Holding your breath, you run into the smog filling the corridor, and keeping one hand against the wall, find the corner and run around it. You break out of the other side of the smoke cloud and flee, hearing a whine behind you (canine, not mechanical).
Spying a door hidden subtly in the wall panels, you open it and hurry through. As you suspected, it leads to servant corridors, and you soon find a store room and hide yourself amidst some packages of toilet rolls.
Safe at last, you wait for night to fall.

Turn to 227


247


“What will the winning numbers in the next Galactic Lottery be?” you ask, already imagining the things you can buy.
The numbers will be 4,3,54,6,23,87,93,12,45,67,7 and 50
You scramble to find something to write the numbers down, and start to scratch them into the side of a box. “What were they again?” you ask.
I have answered three questions. May these truths lead you to enlightenment.
You curse, but the pink platypus remains silent. Eventually you put the Trioracle back in its box and close the lid.

Turn to 181


248


The Space Pirate collapses to the ground, and you rest for a moment. Inside the secure carriage you can see many lockers built against the walls, but in the very centre, locked within a cage of electrified wires is the Golden Crate! It is a middle-sized box covered in gold worked with what looks similar to, but isn’t quite, Egyptian hieroglyphs.
You pause to search the pirate, finding a key, and hold it in your trembling hands as you gaze upon what you have been seeking for so long (close to 24 hours!).
Yet you do not proceed to release the Golden Crate yet, for within your mind two possibilities are emerging like two worms trying to be the first to squirm out of an apple.
You could just take the Golden Crate and hide, then when the train stops make your getaway. With the pirate on guard missing, they may even think he absconded with it, leaving you in the clear!
Alternatively, the other worm explains, you could put on the fallen space pirate’s uniform to impersonate him. Then when the train arrives in Projudia, you can see whom the Crate is delivered to. Additionally, this strategy might give you the chance to find out what the code locking the Crate is.
But, the first worm adds, you are here, alone, the Crate is right in front of you! If you wait, let the Space Pirates take the Crate, you might never have an opportunity like this again! And who says you need to open the crate? Just take it back to Lord Gablentite and reap the rewards of girlfriendness!
The worms each make convincing cases, but it is up to you.

To snatch the crate now, turn to 187
To impersonate the guard, turn to 207


249


You desperately smear your hands all over the death-bot, coughing on it for good measure.
“Filthy vermin!” it snarls in outrage. “I’ll have to replace that panel now to get the stink off!” It attacks, and you can only defend yourself.

The laserswords will inflict 4 points of damage each.

DEATH-BOT ARM 1 SKILL 12
ARM 2 SKILL 10
ARM 3 SKILL 8
ARM 4 SKILL 6 STAMINA 50

If you have a blaster, you can shoot the Death-bot as many times as you wish, each shot taking 10 points off its STAMINA.
The death-bot’s arms each fight you independently, although they do restrict each other’s actions, hence the variation in SKILL. Fight the arms all at once as four separate opponents, except all of the damage you inflict is against the main body of the death-bot. Once you reduce its STAMINA to 30 or less, you may consider ARM 4 disabled. Once its STAMINA is 20 or less, ARM 3 has been disabled, and so on until with STAMINA less than 10 it fights with only ARM 1. You may fight any ARM you wish to determine if you inflict damage.
Blast Rods will not reduce the robot’s SKILL, but can be devastating to its circuitry. Roll 2 dice to see how much damage you do if you win a round.
If you manage to win, turn to 233


250


Remembering the antique grenade, you decide this is an ideal time to see if it still works. Quickly you pull it out from your pocket and flick away the pin before hurling it into the midst of the opposing shape-shifters.
It explodes with a fiery roar, and three of the enemy fall dead.
There are now only 6 warriors accompanying the intruding Merchant Prince. He looks left, then right, and a snarl fills his face. “I will have that Crate!”
He gives a command, and the 7 of them quickly move together, their bodies losing their forms and merging into one large blob of jelly. The blob quickly reshapes itself, eight protrusions extending out and becoming thick hairy legs. Moments later you find yourself confronted with a tarantula man! He is huge, the thick legs banded with orange and black. His upper humanoid portion boasts eight orange eyes. Taking three Blast Rods, it wields them as one thick Rod.
Lord Gablentite motions to you. “If all those stories you told me are true, this should present no trouble for you.”
“Er, yes sir,” you reply, unable to refuse a chance to impress him. Gulping inwardly, you go to meet the tarantula-man.

If you have a blaster, you may use it before commencing melee combat, with each shot inflicting 10 STAMINA damage.

TARANTULA-MAN SKILL 12 STAMINA 30

The combined Blast Rods will inflict 4 points of damage per strike, and lower your SKILL by 2 for the next round.

If you win, turn to 252


251


Just as things look like they are about to turn to violence, things turn violent from a different direction. There is a commotion to the rear of the intruders, and you catch sight of a blood red carapace.
“Your inferiority is terminal! Die!” screams the doctor-death-bot, and severs a shape-shifter from Amorphonon 13 in two.
It leaps on the other intruders and attacks them. The intruders fire at it until, overcome by numerous blaster blasts, it falls to the floor in a sparking heap. Six of the intruders have been killed
With that little intrusion over, the two sides face off again.

If you have an antique grenade, turn to 214
Otherwise, turn to 183


252


The momentous battle draws to a close, and the floor of the hall is strewn with blobs of jelly. Impressed by your own prowess, you turn to receive Lord Gablentite’s praises, but he is ignoring you; instead he opens the Crate…

If you have a suitcase with you, turn to 73
Otherwise, turn to 149


253


You drop the suitcase behind you, and moments later hear the space pirate stumble over it with a curse. You laugh to yourself, but keep running…

Test your STAMINA by rolling 3 dice.
If you are Strong, turn to 211
If you are Weak, turn to 168


254


Just as things look like they are about to turn to violence, things turn violent from a different direction. There is a commotion to the rear of the hall, and you catch sight of a blood red carapace.
“Your inferiority is terminal! Die!” screams the doctor-death-bot, and severs a shape-shifter from Amorphonon 13 in two.
It leaps on the other intruders and attacks them. The intruders fire at it until, overcome by numerous blaster blasts, it falls to the floor in a sparking heap. Six of the intruders have been killed
With that little intrusion over, the two sides face off again.

Do you have any antique grenades with you?
If you have a pair, turn to 99
If you have only one, turn to 256
Otherwise, turn to 195


255


You feel about in the darkness, frustrated and concerned that it is taking so long. You can hear the whir of the death-bot, and suddenly you feel something!
Unfortunately it is not the golden pedestal; it is the sensation of a lasersword slicing you in two. You collapse to the floor, and manage not to die until the smoke starts to clear, whereupon you finally see the pedestal right next to you.
Ah, there it is! You think, and then perish.
YOUR ADVENTURE ENDS HERE


256


Remembering the antique grenade, you decide this is an ideal time to see if it still works. Quickly you pull it out from your pocket and flick away the pin before hurling it into the midst of the opposing shape-shifters.
It explodes with a fiery roar, and three of the enemy fall dead.
There are now only 3 warriors accompanying the intruding Merchant Prince. He looks left, then right, and a snarl fills his face. “I will have that Crate!”
He gives a command, and the four of them quickly move together, their bodies losing their forms and merging into a large humanoid. The skin turns blue, and you recognise the form of the barbarians of Crudia, a race that has achieved space-flight, but refuses to refine its culture. It wields a laser sword in each hand
Lord Gablentite motions to you. “If all those stories you told me are true, this should present no trouble for you.”
“Er, yes sir,” you reply, unable to refuse a chance to impress him. Gulping inwardly, you go to meet the blue-skinned barbarian.

If you have a blaster, you may use it before commencing melee combat, with each shot inflicting 10 STAMINA damage.

BARBARIAN ARM 1 SKILL 10
ARM 2 SKILL 10 STAMINA 20

The laserswords inflict 4 points damage. Fight both arms at once. All of the damage you inflict is taken from the combined STAMINA of the Barbarian.

If you win, turn to 252


257


Before anything else can happen, alarms sound, and moments later the room fills as an armed party bursts in, and guards rush to meet them. The groups stand off, and at the head of the intruders you recognise the Merchant Prince of Projudia! He wears the form of an aristocratic humanoid in golden robes with long white hair and skin of furious red.
“Give me back the Crate!” he snarls.
“It was never yours, thief!” Lord Gablentite retorts. “Give me back my daughter!”
“Your daughter would be alive and well if this worm had not interfered!” For some reason he is pointing at you. “We had an arrangement!”
“I only agreed under duress! Our arrangement was invalid! And now that I have this, finding my daughter will be a simple matter!”
“I refuse to allow this!” the Merchant Prince of Projudia declares.

If you got married on Amorphonon 13, turn to 186
Otherwise, turn to 218


258


A look of determination fills the intruding Merchant Prince’s face “I will have that Crate!”
He gives a command, and the thirteen intruders quickly move together, their bodies losing form and merging into one large blob of jelly. The blob quickly reshapes itself, towering above you and becoming scaled. To your horror a great dinosaur forms. Its heavy jaw is lined with teeth, and spikes line its spine and tail. It is upright on two powerful legs, and its forelimbs have scimitar-like claws.
Lord Gablentite motions to you. “If all those stories you told me are true, this should present no trouble for you.”
“Er, yes sir,” you reply, unable to refuse a chance to impress him. Gulping inwardly, you go to meet the death-o-saur.

If you have a blaster, you may use it before melee combat, each shot doing 10 points of damage.

DEATH-O-SAUR SKILL 14 STAMINA 50

The death-o-saur does 6 points of damage with its claws, except on a double dice roll, where it breathes fire at 12-STAMINA-point-diminishing intensity.

If you win, turn to 252


259


You stagger over to the Crate and claim it once more, also picking up the suitcase. A crowd has gathered to watch the conflict, and the tourists applaud your skills. Knowing the police-bots will have a different view, you hurry to the taxi rank. Seeing you coming, the taxi-bot in the front of the rank opens its door.
You retreat into the cushioned interior, and the taxi closes the door and drives off into the streets. You tell the taxi to take you to the palace of Lord Gablentite.
Reaching your destination, you leap out and dash up to the gate. The guards on the gate don’t want to let you in, and you explain that you work for Lord Gablentite on one of his ships.
Yes, the guards explain. They recognise you. They just don’t want to let you in. You explain about the Golden Crate you are carrying.
Reluctantly, they let you pass, and you are escorted to the main hall of the palace. The great hall is filled with golden columns, and a throne made of pearl and gems sits at the head of the hall, proclaiming the wealth and authority of the Merchant Prince.
It is here that Lord Gablentite meets you, wearing the form of an aristocratic human dressed in golden robes. Despite being a shape-shifter, he looks haggard and worried. Seeing you, hope lights his face.
“Monoform! You have the Crate?”
“Right here,” you say triumphantly.
The Merchant Prince snatches the Crate from you.

Turn to 257


260


You and the space pirate face off, the interstellar trouble-maker pulling out an energy whip.

SPACE PIRATE SKILL 9 STAMINA 18

The space pirate uses an energy whip, inflicting one die roll of damage per winning round.

If you win, turn to 259


261


You draw your blaster and squeeze off a shot. The space-pirate responds by crying out, then falling to the ground making a sizzling sound. His armour has protected him, but he is unconscious and will trouble you no more.

Turn to 174


262


“They say that God is good. So why is there so much suffering in the world?” you ask.
The suffering you experience in this world is the result of your freewill, the Trioracle replies. And you possess freewill as a necessary part of your ability to grow. The Benevolent Generative Matrix that you refer to as God created you to grow. This process of growth requires you to be subject to the consequences of your choices. While it may seem that you are a victim of conditions not of your own making, this is in fact not the case. The fate you experience, every event you call chance or coincidence has in fact been programmed for you by your own generative matrix. It is your choice that either brings suffering, or brings the wisdom to transcend the conditions of your life.
“Huh?” you want to know.
I have answered three questions. May these truths lead you to enlightenment.
You curse, but the pink platypus remains silent. Eventually you put the Trioracle back in its box and close the lid.

Turn to 181


263


You sneer at his energy whip and level your blaster.
“Oh, a coward!” he says, looking at you in disgust.
“Not at all,” you explain. “I am merely using my resources efficiently.”
“Yeah, right! Chicken!”
“You speak of fear, yet it seems to me you are the one who is afraid; hence your clumsy attempts to manipulate me out of using my blaster!”
“Fine, think that if you like, coward!”
“I’m not the coward, you are!”
“I’m braver than you! When I faced the vampire queen, I didn’t have any weapons at all, just a chopstick!”
You laugh derisively. “Well, when I faced the spider queen, I didn’t have anything so ideally suited to killing her. I fought her using a tissue!”
“So? I destroyed a death-bot with a vicious insult!”
“So? I wiped out an army of space-pirates with an unfavourable observation about the weather!”
“No you didn’t, you liar!”
“You’re a liar!”
This continues for some time until you lose your temper and pull the trigger.

Turn to 223


264


You could be in serious trouble. Do you have any antique grenades with you?

If you have 2 grenades, turn to 267
If you only have 1, turn to 238
If you don’t, best put this book down and not read any more. Or if you must, turn to 258


265


You draw your blaster and squeeze off a shot. The space-pirate responds by crying out, then falling to the ground making a sizzling sound. His armour has protected him, but he is unconscious and will trouble you no more.

Turn to 259


266


The laser knife is much like a normal knife with a thick blade, except that a long section of the edge is missing, replaced by an intense laser beam when activated. You are able to cut through branches easily, and even smooth some logs.
After a couple of hours you have made a passable raft and are very proud of yourself. Unfortunately, the laser knife is depleted after such heavy use, and is now useless.
You drag your raft down to the bank, and with no small effort launch it, then leap onto it. So begins your voyage down the river. A few hours later, you see something ahead. It is a great, rusty metal wall crossing over the river, which flows onwards through grates in the base of the wall. Beams of energy crackle along the top of the wall as some kind of defence. There is one channel through an opening in the wall, and you paddle desperately with your hands, aiming your craft at it.
You pass into the dark tunnel, which after a few metres opens into a canal flowing through a town. The sides of the canal are high and smooth, but you see a ladder ahead, and as your raft passes, you snag it and climb up, letting the raft float away.
Some of the people of the town look at you strangely, but you just smile at them and go on your way through the streets of Magantorp.

Turn to 78


267


Remembering the antique grenades, you decide this is an ideal time to see if they still work. Quickly you pull the grenades out from your pocket and flick away the pins before tossing both into the midst of the opposing shape-shifters.
They explode with a fiery roar, and six of the enemy fall dead.
There are now only 6 warriors accompanying the intruding Merchant Prince. “I will have that Crate!” he snarls.
He gives a command, and the 7 of them quickly move together, their bodies losing their forms and merging into one large blob of jelly. The blob quickly reshapes itself, eight protrusions extending out and becoming thick hairy legs. Moments later you find yourself confronted with a tarantula man! He is huge, the thick legs banded with orange and black. His upper humanoid portion boasts eight orange eyes. Taking three Blast Rods, it wields them as one thick Rod.
Lord Gablentite motions to you. “If all those stories you told me are true, this should present no trouble for you.”
“Er, yes sir,” you reply, unable to refuse a chance to impress him. Gulping inwardly, you go to meet the tarantula-man.

If you have a blaster, you may use it before commencing melee combat, with each shot inflicting 10 STAMINA damage.

TARANTULA-MAN SKILL 12 STAMINA 30

The combined Blast Rods will inflict 4 points of damage per strike, and lower your SKILL by 2 for the next round.

If you win, turn to 252


268


Some hours later, you are disturbed by a knocking on the door. Blearily, you get up and answer it. A message-bot is there. “You are summoned to the Grand Hall,” it announces.
You groan, but get dressed and follow it through the gilded corridors. As you reach the Grand Hall, you can see that Lord Gablentite’s entire family is there. They all smile and bow to you as you make your way in. You see the pink platypus inside a glass case by the throne, but of greater interest is Pomplompotom! She stands beside her father; alive and well, and even more beautiful than you remember.
“Greetings, monoform!” the Merchant Prince calls. “You have performed a great service for my family and this planet! You are to be congratulated.”
You bow gratefully. “Thank you, but I’m still not sure what I did.”
“Let me explain my side of the story, and later you can tell us yours. Three days ago my beloved daughter was kidnapped. The ransom call soon came. I was to give them the code to open the Golden Crate, and instruct the captain of the Golden Stream to assist them in the capture of the Crate. I could only agree. So it was that I gave them the code, and issued the instructions to the Captain. He was supposed to go to where the pirates had imprisoned her and bring her back to me. But, something happened to him. Don’t know what. Perhaps you can explain that part. Anyway, in the end they got the Trioracle, but I didn’t get my daughter. Then you arrive, bringing back the Trioracle and my daughter; weak, but alive! It seems you are blessed with an uncommon fortune! This is a great thing you have done for us. Name your reward! I shall deny you nothing!”
You straighten yourself. “Sir! I would like your daughter to be my girlfriend!”
“Wa?!?” Lord Gablentite replies, as Pomplompotom clasps her hands in delight, looking at you with deep gratitude. “I’m offering you anything! Gold, riches, your own ship!”
“I know what I want, sir,” you say.
“Well…I suppose…I can’t, really refuse…er…hmm.”
It is official. Pomplompotom runs to you and you take her hands in yours, staring lovingly into her bright, multi-coloured eyes. Her father isn’t happy, but you are sure you can win him over. After all, you are the vanquisher of despotic parent-bots, the slayer of Invasive Spider Queens, and now the Saviour of Princesses!
Oh, reward of rewards! You have a shape-shifting girlfriend! Oh, yeah!

THE END