Sicily Some Decades Earlier

A wafting sea crest of twelve sodden tongues alerts the Dodger to the unpleasant fact that he has work today. Not only that, but he’s late. He recalls something his grandfather had told him on his dying bed.
“A man’s first duty is the cold hard realization that light is a point of fact.” This is called “Dharma.”
Upon textual analysis of the aforementioned coordinates, we – the three of us, Dodger, Blue Eunich, and Sal Richardson set out across Panama. We’re en route to a place called the “Volcán Barú” it is the highest peak in the country and lies near the border of Costa Rica. Having erupted in 2024, the area is scorched and now devoid of any plant life. Somehow the mountain survived itself, but there are numerous faults and pitfalls which await the unwary traveller.
Here an arcane cult, who worship a grain of rice as their savior has set up shop. Despite the seemingly innocuous nature of their Messiah, they are quite savage and quite unwelcoming to outsiders. Many a venture has led to misfortune. Scattered carcasses spot the terrain, held aloft by primitive pikes in the fashion of Vlad the Impaler. The corpses are always mutilated with complex insignias and designs which upon further examination reveal themselves as maps. One man is said to have accurately deciphered one such map and has since been spotted in Portugal, the West Andes, and Morocco. His visage is rumored to resemble that of Finn McCool, which is strange, as this man was originally from Haiti. Then again, the progenitor of this tale was later institutionalized in a Guatamalan Insane Asylum. They often are.
As the Dodger and his crew scale the mountain they are alerted to a swarm of robotic bees surrounding them. They seem to be after the group’s rations containers which Blue is carrying. These maverick robots are fueled by sesame seed oil. Just the slightest drop can give them enough power to fly 10,000 miles. Thusly, they must be attracted by the vegetable tempura which Sal had prepared.
The “Ro’bes,” as they’re called, were created by an unknown scientist operating out of Sicily some decades earlier. Very little is known about him, but he was clearly a fan of alternative energy and rather pointless innovations. The general consensus is that he was killed by his invention, this single swarm of sixty.
Twelve of the bees latch onto Sal’s neck, disabling him with radioactive venom. Eighteen attack his legs and arms, while the remaining thirty divide amongst themselves to create a perimeter around him and latch onto the rations pack respectively. Alloyed teeth and claws dig through the leather and electronic proboscis penetrate the tinfoiled tempura, siphoning the oil from within the batter. Quickly they release and depart, and Sal falls some four-hundred feet, luckily long since dead.
Dodger and Blue look on solemnly. “Well.. We’ll retrieve and reanimate him if we make it back down. We still have the rice cult to worry about.”
“What of these sorry souls?” Asks Blue?
“The impalees have a chance.. I’d rather not – quite inhumane, but we may have to reanimate a skull for directions.”

To be continued.

-Zeid.

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