Olive, now firmly in the game-or at least she hoped so, because if not she wasn't sure she wanted to know what actually being in the game looked like-had a moment to catch her breath and more importantly, ask her now living, ghostly, glowing, automaton what in the world was happening.
The automaton, Autosprite, explained as best it could.
"This game, Scrust, functions as an entire, living universe unto itself. It was created the moment you entered, and yet has always existed. It has its own history, its own people. All Scrust players will have their own planet in this universe to explore and challenge them; such as the one you're on currently, LoFaH, Land of Focus and Hives."
Autosprite gestured to the mechanical platform with its glowing, ghostly yet metallic arm, "You may use the Alchemiter to combine anything and everything you find into new, potentially stronger items. As your sprite, it is my job to guide you; though there is only so much I'm capable of doing or saying at any given time."
Olive listened to the hovering spectral machine. In any other situation, with anything else leading up to it, she'd have called nonsense.
But after cycle after cycle of Ceylon instructing them, after seeing the messages in the chat from the other gems about the meteors raining down across the universe.. It seemed, if nothing else, appropriately grand.
After a moment to think, Olive found the proper question to ask her guide, "What is the goal now?"
Autosprite smiled, or at least seemed to, the mechanical body of the drone made it difficult to be certain, "Completion of Scrust will result in a new universe, a proper one, to be created. All surviving players will be allowed into it to live within this new world, unburdened by the turmoil of their original or of the monsters here in Scrust."
Olive wasn't shocked by this news. It made a great deal of sense all things considered, she just hadn't thought of it.
She looked up to her two drones, custom made Shatter Robonoids, built to fire at anything Olive personally instructed rather than acting on their own. If this world was as dangerous as it sounded, she was glad she had made them.
But the concept of the alchemiter had her mind already working again on ways they could be improved. Her thought process was halted by the sound of scratching and skittering reached her.
"You… mentioned monsters in this game, didn't you?" Olive questioned, looking around for the source of the sound.
"Yes, all planets had an assortment of both unique and common creatures who exist only to hinder and harm the players."
Olive's eyes narrowed, setting the robonoids to scanning. They picked up on movement easily, Olive following it to see the creatures that had made their way into her workshop.
But seeing them did little to help Olive get to grips with what specifically they were. All five were short, the largest being four feet, with skin like black tar.
All five were clearly the same creature, this could be figured out even without them all having words hovering over them, labeling them as 'Shale Imps.' In addition to the name labels, each had green bars hovering over them.
Health bars, Olive realized. 'They did say it was a game.'
The gem thought as she looked them over. More odd though, were the differing features between them.
The closest two her seemed to be wearing a long dress, with arms stretching out in different directions; one of which ended in a sword-like blade.
Next to it was one even shorter, with small clawed hands, a gem on its chest like a Nephrite-Olive could recognize the cut easily-and thick, thorny vines extending from across its body.
The third had four thin wings, its hands much larger than they should have been and hovering away from the wrists, its actual wrists holding a small white gemstone against its chest.
The fourth seemed to have a desert glass wedged into its chest, its body seeming more mechanical than organical, the features strikingly similar to Autosprite.
The largest of them was quite bulky, with only a single eye, and a massive dual ended hammer in its spiked hands.
Olive could likely have escaped out of the other end of the workshop, but didn't see much value in avoiding it at this point.
If this was what this world was, there would be others. Other, stronger battles. And if this was supposed to be a game, then avoiding them now would do little but leave Olive unprepared for those she couldn't.
She took a deep breath. They hadn't seen her, but there'd be no stealth after she attacked. She aimed both Robonoids.
Olive wasn't certain why, but got the impression some of these creatures had powers relating to gems. And if the cyclopean eye of the imp was any indication, it would have the powers of a sapphire; making it immediately the most dangerous.
The first robonoid fired, and the imp jumped out of the way, having foreseen the attack coming. It hadn't seen the second coming.
The blast of the second hit the bulky imp in chest, its body vanishing as it was killed in a single blast. It didn't vanish the way gems did when shattered or damaged though.
It seemed to melt… vanish into a small pile of green crystalline octagons.
Curious, but Olive could handle that when there wasn't an immediate threat. All eyes went to Olive, but she had time to fire again, both robonoids hitting the mechanical desert glass imp.
Despite how fragile the first had been, the second seemed bulky enough to survive the dual blast for a few seconds before vanishing.
The other three charged, Olive backing away as the drones fired. The nephrite gem didn't last long, plants burning away easily under the blasts.
The winged imp twirled through the air, avoiding the shots and getting close enough to try and slam the gemstone it was holding into Olive's chest.
Olive jumped back, dropping onto her back to avoid the two disembodied hands striking each other.
She brought her legs up and drove both into the imp's chest, leaving it off guard long enough for the robonoids to blast it.
This just left the multi-limbed monster which was getting distressingly close. Olive rolled on the ground, its sword arm cutting into the floor beneath her. One of the other hands grabbed her by her handle and threw her up.
It had a surprising amount of strength, and she hit the ceiling with a dull thud. It had perhaps been aiming to cut her with the sword on her way down; but the drones had already taken care of it by the time she landed.
Not the smartest of creatures it seemed. Olive peeled her face off the ground with a slight groan of pain. Peridots were built to last of course, even the weakest able to take quite a lot of punishment, but that didn't prevent them feeling pain.
Looking over the odd blue objects the bodies had left after the creatures' deaths, Olive sighed, "Alright, that's a start."
Lazurite looked out over the expanse.
The ground she'd been standing on had been brought in with her, a single chunk of bare rock now supported on the top of what looked very much like a solid surface made of clouds.
"Where am I..?" She asked, fascinated both by the sight, and from the odd, slightly discordant melody drifting up from the thick mist preventing Lazurite seeing the surface of wherever she was.
"LoMaS," Desert Glass-sprite answered, "Land of Music and Smoke. Your personal planet."
"Apt name I guess." Lazurite said with a chuckle, swaying gently to the music. She hadn't known how much she would miss music after so, so very long terraforming that planet.
Desert Glass tried to say something, her instincts as a sprite and as herself to keep Lazurite on track halted by the sight of the blue gem with a genuine smile.
She matched it with one of her own as Lazurite began to move to the music echoing up from the smoke below. If this was her personal planet, Lazurite thought, she may as well enjoy it.
She let out her wings and flew up into the smoke, Desert glass following as she seemed to be able to float naturally now. The two moved gracefully through the smoggy open air, dancing to the music for some time.
Right up until they learned how not exactly open this air was, when a being seemingly made of the same solid cloud she'd been standing on crashed into Lazurite; forcing her down into the smoke below.
White Zircon looked out at the endless black outside the windows.
She'd known she was 'entering the game,' but hadn't been expecting her office to come with her. But seeing the darkness, she was glad for it. LoNaE, Land of Night and Entropy.
Not the most welcoming of names, but infinitely more welcoming than the shower of death and red hot stone that had been left for her before.
Geodesprite seemed more than happy with her new existence, confusing though it was to Zircon. She'd heard the sprite's introductory spheal about Scrust, and for the moment was focused on Alchemy. Most combinations of objects seemed to yield two potential results; but all seemed to require something called 'Grist' to actually make the combination.
She could glean that it was some kind of fuel for the alchemiter, but she wasn't certain of how to obtain any. "Grist is provided by defeating enemies. Upon defeat, their bodies will be reduced to grist of one or more types." Geodesprite said.
"Ah, yes," White Zircon said, "...enemies?"
As if on cue, something crashed into another room of Zircon's office.
The gem gulped nervously as she brought out her battle screens.
Pink Lace Agate and her rubies looked out in awe over the fields of LoGaD, Land of Glow and Diamond. Intimidating as the name was to a gem, the sight was beautiful.
Lush green organic plant life and natural crystals growing from the ground, catching the light from above and refracting it over the fields.
The group wanted to explore of course, and according to Pebblesprite, this seemed to be more or less what they were meant to do anyway.
Pink Lace smiled, but suggested they all kept close to her as she led them out. She could see what looked like a town in the distance, and figured that would be a good place to start.
They made it all of five minutes before getting distracted. A small ball of light seemed to come into existence before the group, the reflected colors of the crystals giving it an ethereal appearance.
It was strange, but just as beautiful as the landscape around it.
"Are you a local?" The agate asked.
The little thing giggled and nodded, "trying to get to town are you? I can show you the way if you'd like."
Pink Lace smiled, "That'd be great, thank you." The sparkling thing seemed pleased, and began to lead Agate and her rubies; all five too distracted to realize it was leading them away from the town.
Pebblesprite wanted to warn them, but found herself physically unable to speak up. As a sprite, a part of Scrust and its systems, she couldn't cheat by giving a player information like that.
She just crossed her fingers that they'd figure it out.
Hessonite groaned as her eyes finally opened.
She pulled herself out of the her-shaped dent in the wall. She wasn't sure how long she'd been out, but the peridot wasn't present anymore. She wasn't certain what had been done to her, but she was quite certain it was treasonous.
She stumbled out of the peridot's workshop, seeing the chrome landscape of the world she'd been unintentionally brought into and the electric blue sky above it.
She felt the heavy movements of something approaching, and drew her weapon before it arrived. Sickle in hand, she looked up at the two story being before her.
Pitch black skin and powerful tusks from its mouth. It had fists that would put an elite quartz to shame, a massive hammer clenched in one and vines sprouting from all over its body. A beast like this could have shattered most gems without thought.
Hessonite only glared, blitzing passed it faster than it could see. She didn't bother looking back, and as she walked away, the two halves of the monster fell away from one another and melted into grist, defeated effortlessly.
Hessonite didn't know where she was, but she was certain of one thing: she would find the rebels here, and bring their shards back to the Diamonds.
For those curious, 'Scrust' because Sburb is the traditional name of the game, a contortion of suburb, a place where people are, or Sgrub, a contortion of grub, which is the baby version of an alien species. Scrust contorts crust, as in the section of planet where gemstones might be found. Isn't perfect but the best I could manage ^^U