John is trying to read about data structures and how to deliberately turn his sylladex into a kind of catapult instead of doing it accidentally. The book is written in an aggressive style that John does not particularly care for. As he’s reading he’s arguing with the voice in his head, which is attempting to warn him about the monster behind him. John gets attacked by the monster in question. It’s a shale imp and the next part is an interactive section. The only command is AGGRIEVE. Hitting AGGRIEVE reveals that John is not up to the task of fighting yet.
The next ==> command is for Rose. Rose is now outside. After noting the damage to the transformer near her house she unlogs her umbrella, which causes all of her other belongings to fall out. After gathering her things together again, she heads off. With the next command, which is a [S] (sound) command we go back to John, who is being scolded by the unseen director for having “fallen asleep.” The shale imp has the bunny and is apparently using it as a shield.
This is another interactive section. Follow the directions for attacking which are in the upper right hand corner of the panel. Using the space bar and arrow keys, you should be able to give the shale imp a few good whacks, but John will end up on his rump in the end. The next command takes us back to Rose. We see that the fire is coming closer to the house and has nearly reached the mausoleum. Then we go back to John.
This is another interactive screen, where John uses his sylladex to throw things at the imp. This section is mostly point and click at various items as you’re prompted. Once the shale imp dies a number of objects called “grist” appear. You will only be able to pick them up when you get a little arrow with the caption “pick up!” hovering over each piece of grist. Do you feel accomplished yet?
John reenacts a scene from one of his favorite movies and HE PUTS THE BUNNY BACK IN THE BOX. Unfortunately, he slam dunks the bunny so hard that he puts the bunny THROUGH the box. John gains two levels on his echeladder and we learn some more game terminology involving “boondollars” which don’t yet have any significance. Other game terms are “gel viscosity” and “cache limit.” There is also a card that reveals that for some reason only known to shale imps, it had allocated the bunny to its strife specibus. John sticks both the bunnykind and his hammerkind specibus into his strife portfolio.
Unfortunately, breaking the mallet caused the abstratus to turn into “handlekind,” and caused John’s other hammer to break. After some more shenanigans, John is able to fix the mallet and his abstratus. He sees that Dave is pestering him, but John has become aware that there is something odd about his room. (More odd that the patches of tar, that is.) We won’t find out what’s wrong for a while yet though, the next ==> command takes us back to Rose.
Rose has reached the back up generator and the mausoleum. She starts the generator and takes the cord inside. The next ==> command directs her to “defile the tomb” which she does, removing Jasper’s coffin from the bier it had been placed on to make room for her laptop. She turns it on, and is immediately messaged by Dave, but, instead of talking to Dave, Rose checks on John.
John is being directed to look at the door, which has been rehung and is slightly ajar. John is directed to investigate. Of course, when he goes to open the door he his felled by the classic bucket over the door prank. The perpetrator of the joke is a ghostly old woman wearing a jester’s cap. Then we go back to Rose, who is now talking to Dave.
Dave explains that he has his brother’s copy of the Sburb beta and is working on helping Rose out of her situation with being trapped in a mausoleum with a fire burning outside. Then Dave rambles about his brother’s puppets and Rose engages in a little psychoanalysis of Dave’s fear and loathing of his brother’s puppets. (Dave declares that he has no problem with the puppets while at the same time describing nightmares that he has about his Bro’s main puppet, Little Cal.)
The next command is for John to interrogate the madwoman. The madwoman in question is his grandmother who is now a sprite. Nannasprite’s game function is to explain the cosmology that John has just wandered into. Nanna states that she is here to help John navigate The Medium and beyond. John ask Nanna if she’s seen Dad, and she states that Dad was kidnapped by the imps. Then she explains more about the game, stating that he is not inside the software of the game or the computer. He is in The Medium, which exists within something called the Incipisphere, and the game software facilitated his translation into The Medium. (These may or may not be true statements since Nannasprite is a game feature.)
Nannasprite explains more of the cosmology, stating that beyond The Medium and the “Seven Gates” is Skaia, which is a place of unlimited creative potential. (She is not able to say very much on what that creative potential actually is, however.) She states that Skaia is a point of contention between the forces of light and darkness. We also get an extremely pretty animation of Skaia, and some music. Nanna elaborates on the cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil.
John learns that the act of prototyping a Kernelsprite results in the attributes of that sprite being conferred to both sides of the war between light and darkness. Nanna further states that the forces of light are always fated to lose the battle. This is pretty much a bummer, but Nanna implies that this is all to a purpose. John’s current objective is to proceed toward Skaia by passing through the first gate. John asks how, and Nanna states, “you build.”