Chapter 28 – Weapon of Voice

“Let’s have a look at ya, see.”

Ares sat on the same table where he had woken up earlier. The hunchback stood before him and studied every nook and cranny of his body. “It really is remarkable… Come here, Izzy. See the way the lifeweave keeps itself uniform and flexible. Simply remarkable.”

The little gnome followed her master’s instructions to the letter, staring at Ares with her eyes so wide open he feared they might fall out. Occasionally she would murmur a slight ‘oh my’ whenever she led a finger slide down a particularly interesting line of his skin.

Ares wished he could speak to them, so much so he even considered reconnecting with Orca and have her talk to them, but he was still angry at her. Best to allow himself a cooldown period before he engaged her again.

Then he remembered his own self-repair abilities, and immediately felt like a colossal idiot. Having lived two months in his regular old flesh had made him forget the basics of being a robot. When he initiated the process, however, he got a strange message.

Self-repair protocol unable to initiate

Unable to locate damaged voice modulator

Confused, he caught the attention of master Baek, and pointed a finger to his throat. “Ahh,” said the hunchback, putting a hand to his chin, “Right, we better get you fixed, eh?” Grinning, master Baek lumbered over to a nearby table and retrieved a tube-like contraption.

Returning with the object, master Baek began explaining. “See, this thing was all ripped to pieces when I retrieved it from your throat. I had no idea how to repair it though, so I placed it in a solution of silverblood for a few weeks, which seemed to have some affect. The process has been slow though.”

He showed the other side to Ares, where a large cut was still visible. “Now ye’re active, I’m guessing ya got some fancy way to repair the last bit, right?”

Ares nodded. The dwarf grinned and approached, apparently aiming to put the thing back into his throat right this second. Trusting this ugly little creature, Ares sat still and allowed him to get in close. When the tube was only inches away from his throat, he felt his skin twist and pull. Looking down, he could see tendrils of his artificial flesh reaching out for the tube, taking hold and retrieving back into his throat.

“Oh my..!”

It felt like a toad had decided to jump around in his throat. For a moment he feared he would choke and die.

“By the Old Ones,” said master Baek, his face twisted into a madman’s visage, “We should have activated you sooner, Construct. That way, I wouldn’t have had to go through all the trouble of manually putting you back together.”

Voice modulator located

Damage at 1%

Repairing… complete

Testing…

Involuntarily, his trademarked screech erupted from his throat, then the tones switched into more merciful tones before developing into low rumbles shaking Ares’ entire body with their intensity.

Voice modulator is fully functional.

Damage at 0%

Finally he was complete. With unnecessarily bated breath, Ares opened his mouth and tried speaking. “H-hello? Can you hear me?” The sound, to his ears, was crystal clear, but for some reason the gnome and the dwarf just looked dumbfounded.

“Hello?” He tried again, hoping for a reaction this time. He got it, but not the one he wanted.

“What is that?” Izzy asked, using the same deafening whisper as previously.

“I’ve never heard the like,” said master Baek, inching closer to Izzy, “It sounds so… barbaric.”

“You think it’s how the Old Ones spoke, master?”

It dawned on Ares what the problem was. Their speech was automatically translated from Elvish into English by the system, but he had just spoken plain English. Why can’t things just be simple once in a while?

Messing around in his settings, Ares found an option in his Acquisition tab.

Translate user’s preferred linguistic output to another acquired language?

Limitations:

Acquisition cannot overrule user autonomy. User will receive system guiding, but must perform speech on their own.

With a sinking feeling that he knew exactly what the limitation meant, Ares activated the option set to ‘Elvish’ and tried speaking again. “Cen yuu here mee?”

The system was indeed guiding him, but following the guiding was like attempting an old computer game with a balancing meter, trying to keep the ‘dot of balance’ in the centermost position in a slider using a rusty analog stick.

He tried again. “Ei em Arees.”

“I think it’s telling us its name, master Baek,” said Izzy excitedly, approaching hesitantly. “Did you say your name was Arees?”

“Ares,” he said. The shorter he kept his sentences, the easier it felt to follow the guiding. He would have to practice this more.

“Ares, eh? A strong name, I think,” said master Baek as he stepped up and took another close look. “Usually it is the mage who name their construct, but I think we can convince the young mistress to give up that prerogative in ye’re case.”

“Miy case?”

“Well, it isn’t everyday that a bloody construct from the Emporium age is found or bound to a mage. Even deactivated, my study of you has made me realize areas of ignorance we did not even know we had on construct smithing.”

Ares wanted to know more, especially about this ‘bond’ thing. However, before he could muster a question, the dwarf went off to the side, retrieving another object. This one was also tube-like, but much longer than the modulater had been. In fact, it was as long as his lower arm.

“Anyways, we’ve got orders to outfit ya properly, now ye’re all up and ready. We have to go slow, mind. Since I don’t understand a fraction of your capabilities, we might end up frying ya if the components aren’t compatible with ya.”

That gave Ares pause. He did not particularly feel like ‘getting fried’.

“Yuo sure, this?” He asked, hoping Izzy would catch the gist of his intentions. “Oh aye,” said the dwarf, without any help from his assistant, “I’ve been focusing on this one since I got a hold of ya, and I’m confident I can integrate it properly into ye’re structure.”

But what is it?

The dwarf gave him no more opportunity to object, but took a hold of his lower right arm, prodding it with weird stick. A slight tickle told Ares there was some kind of electricity running through the item, but nothing seemed to happen.

“Bloody thing… This worked just fine before!”

The dwarf’s frustration was only momentary, then he turned his attention on Ares. “Oy, Ares lad, I cannae open ya bloody weapon slot. Can ya do something?”

Weapon slot? Now that was interesting. Hesitantly, he tried to will the system to focus on the tube-like object, and was soon rewarded by a console message.

Unknown equipment is available. Would you like to equip and identify?

He accepted, and soon the skin of his arm warped around like his throat had done before. Tendrils of silver reached out for the object in the dwarf’s hand, retrieving it so fast master Baek cursed and let go as fast as he could. His lower arm opened up, like popping the hood of a car, and the tube was absorbed into the structure as if it had been build to his exact specifications.

High density laser has been equipped and identified

Specifications:

Variable output

Low output for rapid fire function

Charge for high output with superior destructive capabilities

High density laser has been inserted into right hand weapon slot.

Be aware that lifeweave skills cannot be used alongside equipment

A quick look at his Equipment tab told him the same thing, where there was now an image of the tube-like object inside his arm. That explained what the whole ‘Equipment’ thing was about. It was not armor or weapons he carried, but equipment inside him.

Raising his arm, Ares felt he just knew how it worked. With a mere thought, his hand peeled back, rotated, and reassembled into a long barrel. Focusing again, a soft humm began when he charged up the energy for a shot.

Old Ones and their hairy beards, Construct! Don’t bloody charge that thing in here!” The dwarf waived in the air in front of him, his eyes wide with horror.

Oh, right. With a thought he released the power, and the humm quickly lost its intensity. “Sorry.” It was all he could say. Speaking their language was damn hard.

“You would think it was a child playing around with their new toy,” master Baek muttered, loud enough for Ares to hear. “We got ya a place to practice it, don’t worry, but we’re not done yet.”

With those words, the dwarf went back to the nearby table and came back with a small cube. Curious, Ares took a close look at the thing, but it looked utterly unremarkable.

“This here, is my greatest piece so far!” The dwarf exclaimed, grinning like the child he had just accused Ares of being. “Weaponry is all well and good, but a good construct is a whole construct. This here will ensure you can fight for longer without taking too much damage.” He went around to Ares’s back, saying, “Now, do ye’re thing.”

Body shield has been equipped and identified

Specifications:

Kinetic blast dampener

Energy absorption

Retaliation spike

Body shield has been inserted into backside shield slot

Be aware that the location of the shield will also be the weakest point

Ares of course accepted, after seeing the usefulness of the first piece of equipment Master Baek had presented him with. Though he knew next to nothing about the specifications, he could make some guesses. In any case, a shield had been first on his list on necessary items.

Orca told me it was important…

She had given him excellent advice, and helped him in a lot of ways when he was completely ignorant of this world. He was still ignorant. Guilt began to seep in to replace the seething hot anger burning within.

“Why are you sad, Ares?”

A small hand rested on his left arm. He looked over into those big round eyes, wherein he saw another friend. The dwarf was clearly just here because he found Ares interesting, but this one… this little gnome actually seemed to care about him, however ridiculous it seemed.

“It’s not bloody sad, Izzy!” Master Baek roared with laughter, both hands on his hips and hunchback shaking with enthusiasm, “Surely it is overwhelmed by my brilliance, right? Come now, take it out for a spin, I promise it will do good!”

Ares tried his very best to turn his placid face into a smile, which failed. Despondent, he activated the new shield.

It slid across his figure like a new layer of skin. Blue lines of power flowed across the red-and-gold markings of his skin, as well as the new ones that were not supposed to be there. At different nodes the lines split up, and when they met again at a later intersection, a soft blue shell covered the space in between them.

He was soon glowing from head to toe with blue light. Only when all lines had been filled, and every inch of his body was covered, did the glow fade – the shell integrating itself with his skin.

Once finished, Ares could find no trace of the shield. A slight tap on arm elicited no response. However, when a hammer came out of nowhere and struck him in the chest, the blue shell reappeared. Repelling the object, and softening the blow across a wide area, the shield barely let Ares feel the assault.

It still surprised him, though.

Trying to jump backwards while still seated, Ares instead rolled over his back off the table and landed ungracefully on his knees. Getting back up on his feet, Ares was met by the sight of a hunchback lying on the ground in a fit of mad laughter.

“Bwahaha ya should have seen ye’re own face! Izzy.. Izzy, did ya see its face?”

“That wasn’t very nice, master Baek,” said Izzy, fists on hips. The dwarf just ignored her and kept on laughing, so she turned and said, “I’m sorry, Ares. He means well, and absolutely brilliant, but he can be a bit… odd.”

“Noe, is Faine,” responded Ares, more occupied with the spot on his chest where the hammer had hit. Though crude, the test had certainly been effective.

With this, he could keep going for longer. Not only was he at a never-seen-before 0% damage, he now had even more protection that before. This was perfect.

“Thaenk you, Mathster Bak,” he said, giving the still-laughing dwarf a good bow. The fit only lasted a few more moments, then master Baek stood up and faced Ares – still with a wide grin on his face. “Oh it’s my pleasure, Construct. Although it is nice to get some recognition from a project; I guess I’ll have to get used to ya responding to me.”

With a wave of his hand, the dwarf indicated several more items laying on the table next to him. “This be just the start, mind. Once we’re sure those components are fully functional and integrated, we can begin the next phase. I’ve got big plans for ya, my friend, big plans!”

Ares nodded. He liked the sound of that.

“Anyway,” continued the dwarf, his smile gaining another inch in width, “Let’s go blow up some shit.”