Given that the large box of space squirrels I left us contemplating last time seemed to contain a large amount of angry space squirrels, I decided to leave it alone and have a look inside the crate which sat nearby. Inside was their feed, space squirrels preferring ‘orangey-purple fruit’ as the primary component of their diet. The group suddenly calmed and watched me intently, expecting a feed. They didn’t get one though as I simply pocketed a few pieces of fruit and headed on my way. After another hundred metres or so, the corridor came to a dead end which presented two buttons, to the left and right, for me to press. I chose the right one, the wall dropped and revealed the path forward was currently occupied by a terrible foe indeed… the cleaners! I do not jest either, as in all seriousness, the three of them were not only instantly hostile towards me, but with Skill of 9, 8 and 7 were more effective in combat than the guard robots I had previously faced! Again, I restate, these are cleaners, armed with vacuum cleaners. Mental. The following room was a long one, half covered in water, with a door at the opposite end. Under the water seemed to be a large collection of pipes, clamping equipment and machinery, so I chose not to jump in and went through the door at the other side. It was here that things got a little odd. Stretched out before me was a wide, open countryside, contained within the Vandervecken. I was miles above the ‘ground’, able to traverse the landscape via a series of floating pathways. I was on one which, predictably, was ‘arrow-straight’, but then led onto a T-junction where I took a left and then a right. Our author has a tendency to put in long, straight pathways and this tendency became almost farcical here as the pathway continued for ‘quite a few kilometers‘ before reaching a floating metal cube with a door in it. Also at this point was a rapid-transit commuter vehicle which I could use to travel back to the previous T-junction. I hadn’t walked all those kilometres in a die-straight line for nothing though, I wanted to get in that cube! Horrors abound inside the cube. This was some sort of heinous surgery, we knew Cyrus was into some messed up stuff and this was as good an example of that as we’re going to see. Organs, limbs and some unidentifiable pieces of lifeforms were floating around in jars as a backdrop a human with tentacle arms strapped onto an operating table. Appallingly, the man was still alive and tried to speak to me and so I told him the truth, that I was an assassin sent to kill Cyrus. Given his current predicament, I didn’t think he’d have too much of an issue with that, or be able to do much about it if he did. Tears of joy filled his eyes and he tried to stroke my hand with one of his tentacles, which I’m not sure is touching or creepy. Either way he managed to spit out one piece of advice, ‘Take the middle, always the middle…‘, and then passed out. A short trip on the commuter vehicle later and I was taking a left at the previous T-junction where the path curved around and led me to a grey wall, signifying the end of the countryside. Through the door was a familiar scene, a security nexus where two dome-helmeted guards sat watching Zero-G Fangball. Yup, the book cover. I was going to try and convince them that I was a part of the crew, but they instantly pointed their blasters at me and so I had little option but to take them on. An easy fight too with them both at 6/4, another set of guards less potent in combat than the ships cleaning staff. From this room I could continue through a security door, but decided to take the option of the small sliding door instead. This happened to be the guards kitchen area, complete with plate of sandwiches and coffee. Say what you like about Cyrus, he looks after his people. Five Stamina points were mine after consuming all their food and so I went on through the security door. What I found still amazes me now as I relive this section of the book. Behold, a good candidate for the most boring illustration in the world. A big room with a pathway running around the edge and a bridge in the middle. Couldn’t we have had a picture of the surreal countryside scene instead? Taking the advice of my tentacle-armed friend I headed along the middle pathway and managed to cross without incident, heading out through the door on the opposite side. The next obstacle in my way was a super-aggressive looking brute adorned in thick armour plate, carrying a ‘disintegrator’. This guy might end up being tough fight… I flipped ahead a little and deduced that I wasn’t able to take the exciting sounding disintegrator off him after defeating him in combat and so opted to try the non-combat route. ‘To pass, you must answer my question… if you think you are intelligent enough’, he informed me. What the hell is going on here? The guy looks like a maniac just waiting for an excuse to eviscerate someone and yet he’s actually willing to drop all his guardly duties if you can prove your brain power by solving a puzzle? This doesn’t make sense. But who am I to judge as I couldn’t make sense of his puzzle. ‘What is the next letter in the following sequence: OTTFFSSE?‘. On deciding, I had to take the letters number in the alphabet (A=1) and multiply it by 10 to get my page number. I’m sure some clever soul will be more than happy to tell me how this one was done, but I really couldn’t be bothered with it in the end and did a little page flicking to discover the answer was N. ‘You may pass‘, he said, and so I continued, again taking the advice of the guy in the surgery and headed through the middle of three doors. And you know what, our intellectual brute had a Skill of 5. The cleaners had 9, 8 and 7. Sigh.