A Moribund Hero
Thankfully, Rabbit's Ginseng Mix kept their minds from slipping into a hallucinogenic trap a few times. But the virtual environments kept switching to crazy and weird landscapes on bell tolls.
Lucy kept whinging about the crazy goats that stampeded for them. Not that she had anything against the species. Normal goats were sweet and useful beasts.
However, these mad bastards making a stampede for them weren't sweet little bleaters. They were twice the size of Wolf. Shock bolts were being fired at them from their enormous curved horns that were partially pieced together with titanium and carbonized iron. Their steel-capped hooves sparked with electricity charges as they chased them down the shaft tunnels.
Every time the bells around their necks made an annoying tinkle, a hex floor trap was activated to throw out magic crap: mini torpedoes, fire bolts, poison jam donut missiles, and other killer attacks.
The three of them barely avoided them, as they sprinted for their lives. If it wasn't for their overlay map showing the real pitfalls, they would've been kaput a long time ago.
Lucy screamed with frustration as she twisted about to fire rounds from her handguns at one of them, hitting their neck bell. The beast's form instantly dissipated. Some crazed goats got close. She knocked them back with round-house kicks, making sure that her heels damaged the goat bells.
Rabbit's intel on the goat bells came in good. She had analyzed the bell's schematics and determined that they were connected to the VR simulation, allowing the beasts to be real while they shared the same VR space. Destroying the bells would disconnect them from the environment.
Easier said than done. The crazed goats had a learning module, which was evident when they started to avoid their attacks. Fortunately, the goats' intelligence appeared to reset with each landscape change, which was a lot.
One moment they were running along a steel-lined and sterile highway, doing their best not to be roadkill from the zipping hi-tech vehicles. Next moment they were in dust plains where the man-sized cacti were shooting spikes and releasing spore gases at them. They were able to counter any chemical simulations with a top-up of Ginseng Mix and a boost of sage tonic, which tasted as vile.
"This is all kinds of wrong," Wolf grunted as he fired laser bolts at a row of stampeding goats and their tinkling bells.
"Someone find the off switch to this jack." Lucy groaned and huffed for breath when she managed to eliminate a few of the crazed goat numbers.
Rabbit found a safe spot to calm her energy levels and run deeper scans of the area. Her mind zoomed and zipped around the virtual reality landscapes and blips of real-world traps. Her scans detected a nearby VR control node hidden within a rock crevice that was sending out the signals to ensure active sessions. She updated Lucy and Wolf on the details.
They raced for the middle paths to the central antechamber.
Isn't this nice. Vedas's voice rang through their heads.
The landscape changed to a black and empty room.
"W.T.F." Lucy gasped as she saw Vedas causally stroll into her view with a posse of preteen boys in white gowns flanking him.
"Another amulet holder, I see." Vedas stood before Rabbit and licked his lips. "A beautiful failure, more so than the other one left behind."
Rabbit sweated as she madly upped her internal firewall and intrusion shields at the external telepathy magic trying to get a hold of her mind.
"And far stronger." Vedas's left eye twitched with a maniacal light. "Join me. You like power, don't you?"
Wolf growled. "Get back freak."
Vedas frowned, annoyed by the intrusion. He clicked his fingers.
A swarm of preteen boys swiftly disarmed Lucy and Wolf. Their speed was unnatural, as were their soulless eyes that glowed with the same blue color as Vedas's right eye. As unnatural was the boys' speed, so was their strength. They restrained their arms and legs from movement.
"Run Rabbit!" Lucy shouted and found her mouth muffled by a hand.
"Who is weak?" Leon calmly stepped into view with his guns gripped in each hand.
Rabbit felt relieved when she saw the rim of his fedora hat slowly rise to show his face.
Vedas's eye twitched to betray a moment of surprise.
Leon shot bullet rounds that rebounded around the walls to take out the VR control nodes and return their minds back to reality and the true view of the outer corridors of the antechamber.
"Well, well. I would love to chat, but time is flying." Vedas clicked his fingers.
A bell tolled and smoke rushed at their faces.
Lucy and Wolf scrambled to their feet when they were dropped and the hold on them gone.
They drew their weapons and fired, but Rabbit screamed out to stop.
When the air cleared. Vedas and his boys were gone. The rock trembled with threats of crumbling down around them. At least the crazed goats wouldn't make a comeback.
Rabbit flew into Leon's arms, who returned her embrace with a brotherly smile.
"Took your time," Lucy said wryly. "I hope you found a bloody exit for this mole hole."